Self-Defence and Battered Woman Syndrome in a Selected isiXhosa Short Story




African feminist theory, isiXhosa short story, battered woman syndrome (BWS), gender-based violence (GBV) , self-defence


The fact that there are continued public reports of abuse and violence against women and young girls in South Africa, and elsewhere in the global village, is enough to underline that gender-based violence (GBV) is profoundly entrenched in social and human settings. Considering this, it stands to reason to recurrently contest this challenge relying on isiXhosa literature, among other mechanisms. In fact, violence against women and young girls has been regarded by several scholars, government and non-governmental organisations, and community members as an international crisis. On account of this, this article critiques how self-defence and battered woman syndrome (BWS) are reproduced in a selected isiXhosa short story titled “Umfazi Akayongqongqo” (A woman is not a punching bag). This short story is recognised herein as a primary source of data, while African feminist theory is applied to uncover the complexities pertaining to self-defence and BWS as they emerge as a direct consequence of prolonged incidents of GBV. The findings and discussions indicate that prolonged occurrences of abuse and violence towards women and young girls have the potential to lead to situations where victims of GBV cannot tolerate it any longer, hence resulting in retaliation, self-defence and BWS. While there are contrasting views concerning self-defence and BWS, particularly within the legal frameworks, this article underlines the necessity to strike a balance between these important social, cultural, and political issues in a bid to reasonably solve the conundrum—GBV. The concluding remarks present possible future scholarly discourses that may be considered in an attempt to address this challenge. For instance, it would be prudent to consider ways to decolonise isiXhosa literary scholarship, focusing on re-evaluating traditional canons, challenging Eurocentric voices and promoting indigenous African knowledge systems (IAKS). By the same token, it would be perceptive to examine how isiXhosa literature mirrors and responds to the legacies of colonialism, including matters related to identity, language, and cultural representation.


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How to Cite

Diko, Mlamli. 2023. “Self-Defence and Battered Woman Syndrome in a Selected IsiXhosa Short Story”. Journal of Literary Studies 39:20 pages.



Received 2023-10-06
Accepted 2023-12-01
Published 2023-12-11