“It can happen any time…You just never know…” a qualitative study into young women taxi commuters’ subjective experiences of potential exposure to harm, violence and traumatic stress
This study explored the subjective experiences of a population who appear to be at relatively high risk of potential violence and harm, specifically female university students who are compelled to commute by taxi on a daily basis. The study aimed to explore and document the psychological experiences of these female university students including their anxieties, levels of traumatic stress related responses, cognitions and fantasies, and conscious and unconscious adaptations to their circumstances. It was hoped that information gleaned would contribute to, and possibly expand the understanding of what the lived experience of Continuous Traumatic Stress (CTS) might entail. In order to investigate the research questions, ten students who were identified as being compelled to use minibus taxis as their primary mode of transport to and from university participated in semi-structured interviews on the topic of their experiences in this space and how they adapt to and survive in their circumstances. The study was located in the qualitative research tradition and the interview transcripts were analysed using critical thematic analysis. The main themes were identified and presented under four sections; exposure to traumatic events, the effects and impacts of these events, managing and coping, and gender related experiences in the taxi commuting space. Exposure to traumatic events included taxi driver aggression, motor vehicle accidents, crime and violence, xenophobic attacks and gender related trauma. The most prominent effects or impacts that were identified were firstly, anxiety, fear and preoccupation with danger and secondly, numbing, resignation and hopelessness. The tactics which were employed by participants in managing and coping with their circumstances included, prayer and observation and management of their commuting environment. It was through observation and self-management that participants practiced strategies that allowed them some measure of control in terms of how they conducted themselves in the taxi commuting space. Under the final section, participants revealed their gender related experiences reporting a sense of being exploited, being subject to sexual harassment, and the constant fear of rape or sexual violation. The links between these participants’ experience and the concept of CTS are presented and it is argued that many aspects of their experience appear consistent with CTS.
A dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of requirements for the degree of Master of Arts At the University of Witwatersrand Johannesburg 2016
Kwele, Kgomotso (2016) “It can happen any time…You just never know…” a qualitative study into young women taxi commuters’ subjective experiences of potential exposure to harm, violence and traumatic stress, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, <http://hdl.handle.net/10539/21836>