Research Location: Durban, South Africa
Lena's research project investigated the relationship between the low levels of police legitimacy in South Africa and high levels of gender-based violence. Her analyses used social psychology to determine the effects of a lack of trust in police force. Her data currently shows a sense of learned helplessness as victims and those who experience crime realize that the police are of little to no help to them. Nevertheless, civil society in many communities in KwaZulu-Natal has consolidated their efforts to replace the police as gender-based violence first-responders in their communities. Community members prefer to reach out to these large networks of social development NGO's, social workers, faith based organizations, advocacy groups, etc. The success of these so-called "rapid response teams" have been immensely successful.
Lena says, "After graduation I plan to obtain a masters in either computational social science or data science for development. This experience did help me discern that. My love for research has only grown and I'm even more sure that I'd like to use the skills I've learned and am actively learning to contribute to social good in the NGO sector."