PhD Thesis Explores Gender Relationships in the DRC
Research into the conflicts in relationships between young men and women in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) resulted in Mr Maroyi Willy Mulumeoderhwa receiving a Doctorate in Conflict Resolution and Peace Studies.
Mulumeoderhwa’s PhD thesis was titled: “Building More Peaceful Gender Relationships in South Kivu Province, Democratic Republic Congo 2012”.
He researched the attitudes and reported behaviour towards relationships of secondary school students in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Explaining the rationale for exploring this sensitive topic, he said ‘I was motivated to building respectful, nonviolent gender relationships.’
A total of 56 boys and girls aged betwen16-20 from two urban and two rural high schools in South Kivu Province took part in focus groups and 40 of these were subsequently interviewed individually.
His findings revealed the majority of boys felt that they were entitled to sex with their girlfriends. ‘If persuasion was unsuccessful, the use of force was legitimate. In their minds, this does not constitute rape,’ said Mulumeoderhwa.
‘The girls, on the other hand, were clear that such forced sex was rape. However, rape was perceived as having increased in recent years and was explained by weak legal systems, pornography and provocative dressing by girls.’
He noted that boys were also angry at the competition from older, often married men who were able to provide monetary and other incentives to the girls.
Mulumeoderhwa said for girls the risk of pregnancy and sexually-transmitted diseases and loss of respect – their self-respect and the respect of their boyfriend – made them careful about having sex.
The research revealed that for boys, sex in a relationship was seen as normal and a key indicator of them entering manhood.
Mulumeoderhwa faced various challenges in conducting research, including the sensitive nature of his topic. ‘Research that deals with often taboo sexual topics must be aware of possible limitations concerning the honesty and completeness of participants’ responses.
‘Knowing the above issue, I had to hire and train a female fieldworker who matched the gender demographics of participants to conduct female single-sex interviews and focus groups.’
Commenting on graduating with a PhD, Mulumeoderhwa said, ‘This was a long journey, today I am very excited to reach the end.’
He offered the following advice for students interested in reading for a PhD. ‘PhD is a challenging programme that requires sacrifice, perseverance, courage, focus, and hard work.’
Mulumeoderhwa is currently supervising students at UKZN and is also a Research Assistant at the Durban University of Technology. He plans to be a “top academic” in the future.
He has spent recent years exploring peace studies and developing his academic prowess. ‘Since I embarked on my Masters in Conflict Resolution and Peace Studies, I realised the importance of research as an important aspect of the academic career. I also embarked on my PhD project that I completed after three years. This research has produced two journal publications so far.’
Mulumeoderhwa, who also published a number of journal articles in peer-reviewed journals, is married with four children.
- Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer