Assaulting Childhood: Children’s Experiences of Migrancy and Hostel Life in South Africa
One of the tragic spinoffs of the apartheid policy has been the dehumanization of millions of black migrant workers who have been confined to single-sex hostels for most of their adult lives.
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One of the tragic spinoffs of the apartheid policy has been the dehumanization of millions of black migrant workers who have been confined to single-sex hostels for most of their adult lives. Much has been written about these hostels from the point of view of the men who occupy them. Something has been written about the effect of the migrant labour system on the women left behind in the rural areas. Little has been written about the fact that, increasingly, the hostels have become home to whole families who occupy what Sean Jones has termed “bedholds” within those hostels. This book documents the lives of 24 such children, all of them living at Lwandle, a complex of migrant workers’ hostels near Cape Town. It is an account of the multiple ways in which the apartheid policy, and in particular the system of forced labour migration, has fragmented families, disrupted the children’s home life and schooling, and forced on them conditions of extreme squalor, violence and degradation. But it is also an account of how the children coped with the appalling conditions and survived with strength, tenacity and resourcefulness.
Softcover, 23x15cm, 270pp