Ethical Considerations

The Sizakuyenza Safe House deals with victims of domestic violence. As such the WPI Safe House Team had to be aware that there would be particular ethical considerations that would have to be taken into consideration that were not standard for other project locations. In order to respect the needs of the residents of the Safe House the Sizakuyenza Safe House Team looked to the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women for some guidelines in working with victims of domestic violence. From this source, the team gained the following guidelines (Women, 2012):

  • Interviews must be conducted in a safe, confidential and completely private setting.
  • Informed consent must be obtained; that is, individuals should be informed of the purpose of the study and the nature of the questions that will be asked.
  • Individuals should be given the opportunity to skip questions or to end the interview at any time.
  • Monitors should interview only one woman per household, so that, for example, a female relative of an abuser may not communicate back to him [the abuser] about the nature of the study in which his wife participated.
  • Strict protocols must be followed to remove identifying markers from data before storage and publication.
  • Interviewers should be female, and trained in ethics and safety as well as question strategy.
  • Questionnaires should be carefully constructed to consider survivor emotions about incidents of violence.
  • Survey administrators should make post-survey support available upon request.

As the team did not run a study nor seek any information on the woman’s abuse or reasons for being there it was necessary they adapted the guidelines to the current situation. Thus the team created the following list of guidelines before arriving at the Safe House:

  • Discussions must be held in an environment in which all individuals are comfortable.
  • All women must be aware why the team is present.
  • All women must give verbal consent to be photographed and for the information they provide in discussion with the team to be published on the website.
  • The women must be aware that they have no obligation to work with the team or interact with the team.
  • No names can be included in any documents, only initials, so as to protect the identity of the women and children staying at the safe house.
  • The team should always be sensitive to what the women have gone through and act respectfully at all times.
  • There should never be any direct questions about the women’s experiences with abuse.

Sizakuyenza Safe House is home to children as well as women, and there are always ethical concerns when dealing with minors. In order to respect their rights and make them feel more at ease the team referenced the ‘Code of Ethics for People Working with Children and Young People’ and gained the following guidelines (Schmit, 1998):

  • Value and respect each child or young person as an individual in his/her own right, in his/her role as a member of his/her family, and in his/her role as a member of the community s/he lives in;
  • Respect the relationship of the child or young person to his/her parents, his/her siblings, other members of his/her family and other significant persons, taking account of his/her natural ties and interdependent rights and responsibilities;
  • Facilitate the optimal growth and development of each individual child or young person to achieve his or her potential in all aspects of functioning;
  • Help each child or young person for whom he or she bears responsibility by preventing problems where possible, by offering protection where necessary, and by providing care and rehabilitation to counteract or resolve the problems faced;
  • Use information appropriately, respecting the privacy of children and young people, maintaining confidentiality where necessary, respecting the right of children and young people to be informed of matters concerning themselves, and avoiding the misuse of personal information;
  • Oppose at all times any form of discrimination, oppression or exploitation of children and young people, and preserve their rights;
  • Maintain personal and professional integrity, develop skills and knowledge in order to work with competence, work co-operatively with colleagues, monitor the quality of services, and contribute to the development of the service and of policy and thinking in the field of childcare.

Though there was no study or formal interview conducted, which these guidelines were intended for, the team still found them useful and relevant.

In order to secure consent of the women and staff as well as protect the identities of the residents of the Safe House, the team gained approval from each of the women to use their images. The team also met with Mama Pilisani and Nontembiso and went through each of the images in order to get permission on information and picture usage. After verbal informed consent was gained from the women, Mama Pilisani and Nontembiso signed a short informed consent allowing the team to use the pictures and information on the internet, in presentations and by WPI in any future programs.

Consent form

Written Informed Consent


Written Informed Consent