Rape Epidemic in South Africa. Why?

More than one in three South African men admits committing rape, one in seven has joined a gang rape, and more than three quarters admit committing violence against women.

More than half of South African women have experienced violence at the hands of men, and one-quarter will be raped by age sixteen.  

Why? Two thirds of rapists felt sexually entitled. Some wanted to punish women who had angered or rejected them. Others wanted to turn lesbians straight. And some were just bored.

These “reasons” may only get at surface issues. What else is going on?

Rachel Jewkes, a lead researcher on the study of violence in South Africa, feels that racism lies behind the abuse.

Rape holds a sexual component, but it is essentially about power. When a large population is oppressed, say through racism – even as manhood is defined as “dominant and powerful” – men may use rape as a weapon to gain a sense of personal empowerment. Rapists are often trying to bridge a gap between their impotent selves and the dominant men they seek to be. Imagine the control they feel when they restrain, take over, and invade another person’s body. Imagine how high and mighty they feel in creating humiliation.

Gay bashing is another weapon whereby some men try to create a sense of male superiority. If women act like men (sexually/stereotypically) how can men keep their sense of dominance? Hence, the need for “corrective rape” in South Africa that seeks to turn lesbians straight.

In one attack Millicent Gaika was beaten and raped for five hours as her assailant screamed, “I know you are a lesbian. You are not a man, you think you are, but I am going to show you, you are a woman. I am going to make you pregnant.” Since the women are often murdered “correction” sounds less likely than gay-bashing as motive.

Others were simply bored. So the eroticized violence of patriarchy comes in handy: Oh, let’s have some fun!

This is helped when women are seen as sex objects, and not people who have their own lives, goals, thoughts and emotions. When women become nothing but objects for sexual pleasure, it’s no wonder that one third of the rapists said they did not feel guilty.  

So here we have powerless men trying to feel powerful, who live in a world where violence against women is eroticized, and where women are seen as mere objects. A recipe for epidemic rape.  

Georgia Platts

If you would like to read more and sign a petition on corrective rape, go to change.org

I received this note from change.org: “Several weeks ago, survivors of “corrective rape” started a petition on Change.org to ask the Minister of Justice to declare corrective rape a hate crime… More than 65,000 signatures later, and the senior Ministry officials we targeted are apparently having major difficulty accessing their e-mail because of all the e-mails your signatures are generating! WOOOHOOOO! Well done & thank you!”

Let’s help keep it up!

Related Posts on BroadBlogs
Women Seeing Women as Sexier than Men 
What Happens When You Beat A Sex Object?
Mind of a Rapist: Trying to Bridge a Gap between a Small Self and a Big Man

About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on January 14, 2011, in feminism, gender, men, objectification, psychology, sexism, violence against women, women and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Well, actually, whatever your opinion of apartheid is, its end has caused a collapse of crime repression and great disorder; the transition was very badly thought out.

  2. I definitely agree with “broadblogs” comment in that education would definitely help these suffering men. It is straight pathetic for these men who feel the need to be powerful to rape a women. They should pick on someone their own size, try to do that to another man, and get some sense beaten in them, or more civilly, taught to them through education. A main problem is that most of this society is poor and unable to pay for their own education so they base their knowledge off of teachings from other uneducated, older, and “wiser” men.

  3. Being a student who is majoring in Sociology, the topic of female discrimination has been further discussed in the courses that I have taken before. Obviously, sexual discrimination has long been a serious problem in the society, which in fact needed to be solved as soon as possible. Though it is hard to eliminate all discrimination problems, the less is better. In fact, there are quite a lot of volunteer groups all over the world recently in which they are willing to promote the right information to the youngsters and educate them in order to reduce these tragedies happened. However, why would the crime rate of raping is still particularly high in South Africa? In my point of view, I would say this could be attributed by the imperfect education structure in South Africa. As we all know, the South Africa region mainly contains of third-world country, which they have less resources and support for educating their citizens, therefore, many of them might not have the correct moral sense. In order to solve this problem, the best solution probably is to educate their young generation desperately, which can definitely reduce the numbers of victims in the future.

    • Education would probably help. Along with jobs and a lack of discrimination in getting them. Since disempowered men sometimes use rape as a way to create a sense of personal empowerment, education and jobs would certainly help.

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