In May, Linda Williams made her third trip to South Africa to participate in and present two papers at the Second South African Gender-Based Violence and Health Conference, held in Johannesburg. This conference brought together over 200 participants—predominantly those working to stop violence against women in South Africa, but also including representatives from Eritrea, Nigeria, Uganda, Sudan, Cameroon, Canada, United Kingdom, Switzerland, and the United States. The three-day conference addressed the critical
issues of child sexual abuse, HIV/AIDS and gender based violence, and domestic violence and health issues.
Williams presented “Women’s lives and women’s voices: Pathways to recovery by survivors of child sexual abuse,” coauthored with Victoria L. Banyard. This presentation focused on women’s strength and resilience and on understanding women’s resistance to the negative consequences of violence in childhood. Williams reported new findings from in-depth interviews with African- American women of lower socioeconomic status in the U.S. These women have negotiated pathways to survival and found ways to function adaptively despite numerous childhood stressors. Through qualitative analyses, Williams and Banyard were able to identify strategies for survival.
“Liberating methodologies for understanding and transforming violence against women,” coauthored with Nadera Shalhoub Kevorkian
of Hebrew University, Jerusalem, explored the link between research on violence against women and activism. The authors used case studies of violence against women in oppressive sociopolitical contexts to demonstrate the connections between feminist research, women’s experiences, activism, and liberation. Kevorkian and Williams discussed how the politico-gender context and social consciousness influence violence against women, impact researchers, affect our understanding of abuse, and raise questions about methodologies.
The conference forged important connections for future international work in preventing violence against women. Many attendees indicated
their strong interest in participating in the WCW conference planned for April 2004.