"You Just Come to School, If You Made It, Its Grace": Young Black Women's Experiences of Violence in Utilizing Public "Minibus Taxi" Transport in Johannesburg, South Africa

Gillian Eagle, Kgomotso Kwele
Journal of Interpersonal Violence 2019 April 9, : 886260519840395
The "minibus taxi" industry in South Africa is a dominant transport provider for many scholars and students. The industry is characterized by a misogynistic culture and high risk of exposure to violence. What forms of violence are young Black women students in Johannesburg, South Africa, exposed to as commuters compelled to use "minibus taxis" to travel to university? What is the psychological impact of this exposure" What coping mechanisms are employed to manage in this environment? Ten Black female students aged between 19 and 24 registered at a Johannesburg-based university were interviewed. All used "minibus taxis" to travel to and from campus on a daily basis. A qualitative method was employed entailing data collection by means of individual face-to-face interviews conducted by the second author. Data were analyzed according to Braun and Clarke's guidelines for thematic analysis. Key themes related to exposure, impact, and coping were identified and elaborated. Interviewees commonly reported polyvictimization entailing exposure to several different forms of violence, including accident risk and dangerous driving, abuse and aggression by and between drivers, street crime, and sexual harassment and violation. Impact took the form of anxiety and fear, evidenced in conjunction with "thought blocking" and resignation, and showed features consistent with continuous traumatic stress. Both emotion-focused coping, in the form of prayer, and problem-focused coping, in the form of considered choices about conduct within the commuting space, were employed. Greater attention should be paid to the enduringly stressful impact of minibus taxi commuting for young women as exposure to interpersonal violence in public space is commonplace and has significant psychological costs. Policy makers concerned with public safety should intensify the focus on risks of interpersonal violence for women compelled to use public transport systems.

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