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"We Are Not Welcome": The Life and Experinces of Female Migrants in Cape Town
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Anthropology.
2011 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

This thesis is an ethnographic study of the life of female migrants in Cape Town. The thesis is based on material gathered through informal conversations, semi-structured interviews and participant observation conducted among female migrants in Cape Town.

South Africa is today the strongest economy in the Southern African region which attracts people from other poorer African countries. They migrate to South Africa for a chance to a better life or an opportunity to support themselves and their families. However, South Africa´s restrictive immigration policies make it difficult for many migrants to obtain the right documents and be able to ‘legally’ cross the South African border. Even if migrants get an asylum-seekers permit they are not allowed to legally work in the country. They are included and excluded at the same time. The constant ‘criminalization’ of migrants´ acts makes it hard for migrants to access any human rights and protection in general, which makes them more vulnerable to exploitation.

More and more women are crossing the borders to South Africa to get work and physical security as a part of the global ‘feminization’ of migration. Women´s movement therefore questions the picture of the man as the sole breadwinner. Even though this is the reality women are excluded from the discourse about migration and existing immigration policies in South Africa. Female migrants are not acknowledged as important actors and are even more vulnerable in the forced and marginalized position of ‘illegality’, then male migrants.

This study explores the female migrants´ own experiences of struggles like getting documented, work, secure housing and being exposed to xenophobia. The women have also developed different strategies to handle these difficulties. This thesis criticizes the ‘victimization’ of female migrants, which ascribes them with powerlessness and being without agency, and shows that they are active in seeking solutions and creating strategies to increase their scope of action.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. , 85 p.
Keyword [en]
Migration, Female migrants, Southern Africa, South African immigration policy
National Category
Social Anthropology
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-59987OAI: diva2:432456
Social and Behavioural Science, Law
Available from: 2014-06-19 Created: 2011-08-03 Last updated: 2014-06-19Bibliographically approved

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Gustafson, Karin
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