Original Research

Gender-based violence perpetrated against migrant women during lockdowns: A pastoral care challenge

Nomathemba N. Msipa, Maake J. Masango
African Journal of Pentecostal Studies | Vol 1, No 1 | a4 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajops.v1i1.4 | © 2024 Nomathemba N. Msipa, Maake J. Masango | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 December 2023 | Published: 24 April 2024

About the author(s)

Nomathemba N. Msipa, Department of Practical Theology and Missions Studies, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria,
Maake J. Masango, Department of Practical Theology and Missions Studies, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


Background: The article unpacks the complexities of gender-based violence (GBV) against illegal migrant women during lockdowns and contributes to the broader discourse on gender equality, human rights and social justice within the Pentecostal or Charismatic pastoral praxis. The geographical demography was a semi-formal area located between South Africa’s Gauteng and Northwest provinces. The period for the inquiry was South Africa’s coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) induced lockdowns that began on 27 March 2020 until 05 April 2022.

Objectives: The study aimed to shed light on the unique challenges faced by this vulnerable population, exploring the intersectionality of their undocumented status, gender and the socio-economic impacts of restrictive measures and the challenges to pastorally care for them.

Method: The qualitative approach and case study were used to select two sets of participants; 13 illegal Zimbabwean Migrant Women (ZMW) and 3 Pentecostal or Charismatic clergy.

Results: There was a disturbing prevalence of GBV incidents, ranging from physical, sexual to psychological abuse. The illegal status of migrant women exacerbated their vulnerability and reluctance to seek help due to fear of deportation and societal stigmatisation. The lockdown-induced economic strain further compounded their susceptibility to GBV.

Conclusion: There was nonexistent pastoral care policy or praxis within the Pentecostal or Charismatic church for illegal ZMW who were victims of GBV during the lockdowns. These themes emerged: (1) high incidents of GBV perpetrated against illegal ZMW during lockdowns; (2) barriers to seeking pastoral care were lack of trust, migration status, fear of deportation, fear of infection and (3) no physical virtual pastoral care.

Contribution: This article is embedded in the Pentecostal or Charismatic practice of care; postmodern, using the interpretive narrative framework to highlight the narratives of illegal Zimbabwean Migrant Women (ZMW) who were victims of gender-based violence (GBV) during South Africa’s COVID-19 lockdowns and the challenges of pastorally caring for them.


gender based violence; Zimbabwean migrant women; pastoral care; COVID-19; lockdowns; intersectionality; migration; Pentecostal; Charismatic; African psychology.

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions


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