Abstract

South Africa has a female homicide rate six times the global average, with half of murdered women killed by an intimate partner. The gendered nature of such murders indicates the need to explore the masculinities of men who kill an intimate partner. This paper explores the childhoods of 20 men who were incarcerated for such murders and draws on 74 in-depth interviews with these men, family and friends. This study found that traumatic childhood experiences increases emotional vulnerability, resulting in their feeling unloved, insecure and powerless. We argue that they adopt violent forms of masculinities to achieve respect and power. Yet, there is no linear relationship between traumatic childhood experiences and adopting violent masculinities.

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