Deeper Insight into Intimacy Issues Facing Shack Dwellers
A Sociological Exploration of Sexual Relationships and Intimacy among a Select Group of Participants in an Informal Settlement: A Case Study of Cato Manor, Durban, is the title of an MA thesis.
The study earned Ms Sandisiwe Macozoma a Master of Arts (Sociology) degree from UKZN.
Macozoma’s research explores strategies used by shack dwellers to overcome the challenges imposed by their living conditions. ‘Informal settlements by their very nature are densely populated with shacks in close proximity to each other with little or no privacy for inhabitants. Living in an informal settlement results in depersonalisation due to its communal characteristics and over crowdedness,’ said Macozoma.
She noted that under these living conditions, the expression of intimacy and sexuality became heavily constrained resulting in couples finding alternative ways to satisfy their desires.
‘Some of the coping strategies couples use are waiting for children and other members of the family to go to bed; waiting late hours in the night to be intimate; waiting for weekends and vacations when they could go to their rural homestead; rotate child care arrangements with friends and relatives over weekends, having holidays in other settlements and occasional absenteeism from work,’ said Macozoma.
Obstacles to intimacy in some instances led to infidelity, marital discord and various forms of social pathology.
Professor Sultan Khan supervised the dissertation.
Words: Melissa Mungroo
Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan