Honors Capstone Project
Date of Submission
Professor John Western
Professor Susan Wadley
Citizenship and Public Affairs
Capstone Prize Winner
Won Capstone Funding
African Studies | International and Area Studies | Other International and Area Studies
Policing in South Africa has a long, twisted history that is still evident in some current police practices and especially in the public’s perceptions of the police. In addition to historical factors such as colonial rule and apartheid, people’s perceptions of the police are affected by their race, class, gender, and geographic location. Although these factors have an individual effect on perceptions, it is through a complex analysis of how they relate to one another that a true understanding of a person’s perception can be reached. The goal of this research was to discover perceptions women in Cape Town have of the police and how these perceptions relate to race, class, gender and location.
In order to determine this, one focus group and three individual interviews were conducted in both Langa Township and Stellenbosch. Sixteen women and one man participated. The sessions revealed four main themes: women’s perceptions of their overall safety, the way that higher class status can be used to procure added security measures, that the police are perceived to be generally ineffective, and that race and its connections to gender have a great impact on perceptions of the police. Although the expected outcome was that women would perceive they were treated poorly on the basis of their gender and further that women in Stellenbosch, as the white upper class, would have a more positive perception of the police than women in Langa, as the black working class, this was not demonstrated by the findings. Instead, the sessions revealed that all of the women felt unsafe in their areas, regardless of the location and that they believed the police to be ineffective, albeit for a variety of different reasons.
Moore, Ellen Blanche, "Perceptions of Safety Across Race, Class, Gender, and Location: A Study of Women in Cape Town, South Africa" (2014). Syracuse University Honors Program Capstone Projects. 805.
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