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Across South Africa there is a growing body of work that explores gender dynamics in heterosexual relationships between young people aged 15 and 24 years. This is mainly influenced by the high prevalence of HIV and the incidence of intimate partner violence in this age group.


Most studies to date have been based upon non-disabled young people, with limited focus on young disabled people. In an attempt to address this gap, this presentation describes findings from a study conducted with 22 Zulu-speaking young people with visual and physical disabilities in KwaZulu-Natal.


The presentation highlights how young disabled participants appeared to downplay their disability with respect to intimate relationships and accentuated the interweaving of complementary and contentious discourses surrounding multiple partners, gender based violence and cultural identity.


Dr. Paul Chappell is a Researcher at the Centre for Diversity Studies, Wits University. Paul is an educational social scientist with a Doctorate in Education. As a disabled person, he has over 14 years of international experience in the field of inclusive development in relation to disability and diversity. His research interests include the development of sexual identities amongst youth with disabilities in the African context, and the intersections between gender, queer and disability studies. Paul has published extensively on issues related to disabled sexualities and inclusive development. As a registered therapist of sexuality, he also has wide-ranging experience in providing comprehensive sexuality education to disabled youth and their caregivers in South Africa. He is passionate about developing positive socio-sexual identities among disabled youth, and actively encouraging their involvement in research.


  • To view the powerpoint presentation, click here.

    Proteknôn is derived from two Greek words: "in front of" and "child". As our name implies, we are senior child protection researchers and practitioners, focused on what children are facing, especially as it relates to their care, protection and wellbeing. In order to do this, we are committed to learning from and with girls and boys, of all ages, backgrounds and capacities.

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    Zulu-speaking disabled young people's constructs of heterosexual relationships in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa



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    By Dr. Paul Chappell
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