Gender and Reproductive Health Violence: Experiences of South African and Migrant Women in Johannesburg

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 11:00
Oral Presentation
Kezia BATISAI, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
Critical mapping of existing scholarship reveals that in many African countries, mainstream systems have historically failed to meet health care demands of the public. Failure, in a context like South Africa where the gap between the rich and the poor is wide, has produced a healthcare system that is stratified along class and racial lines. As South Africa’s rich exclusively access private healthcare, the poor, who often bear the brunt of mass unemployment, not only rely on a failing healthcare system, but they resort to parallel systems. Building on bio-politics theorisations that emerged as I interrogated questions about, and the realities of natalism in Zimbabwe, this paper explores South African and migrant women’s experiences of access to reproductive healthcare in Johannesburg, South Africa. The central argument here draws on earlier observations that migrant women are often framed as a burden on the healthcare systems for destination countries because of the limited general healthcare services for citizens, let alone sexual reproductive health needs. The situation of migrant population is further worsened by the mismatch between policy and reality in contexts like South Africa where policy guarantees every one access to health care but access is hindered by lack of immigration documentation such as passports and visas. Thus, this paper works with the theorisation that when juxtaposed with the reality of a failing healthcare system, the reproductive experiences of South African and migrant women tell a particularly interesting narrative about reproductive violence and gendered access to reproductive healthcare in South Africa. Questions emerging out of this paper are theoretical and practical lenses through which clinical sociologists could move into discursive spaces from where they engage in critical debate that furthers our understanding of reproductive violence and the subsequent interventions meaningful to the sexual reproductive healthcare needs of South African and migrant women.