One in Four Men Admits to Rape in South Africa

A leading research group in South Africa released the results of a survey where one in four men admitted to having committed rape and nearly half admitted to raping more than one person. The study also drew a correlation between violence and HIV prevalence. When you consider the culture of impunity surrounding violence against women in South Africa, the survey is not surprising in the least. “According to the researchers, many of the study’s participants appeared to see no problem with what they had done.”

Current South Africa President Jacob Zuma was acquitted of rape in 2006. The very fact that a case against him was even brought to trial is surprising.  Only one in nine rapes are ever reported and only a fraction of those are brought to trial. During the trial, the judge allowed his supporters to gather outside the courthouse and chant “burn the bitch.” When testifying, Zuma acknowledged a sexual encounter but stated that as the woman was dressed “provocatively” in traditional dress, “it was against Zulu culture for a man to leave a sexually aroused woman unsatisfied.” Zuma also stated that he knew the woman was HIV positive but that he showered after the encounter and because he was healthy deemed this enough of a preventative measure.

Since his inauguration, Zuma has indicated an intention to make crime prevention a priority and has set up a ministry to promote women’s and children’s rights.  But what is most necessary for South Africa is for men who are in positions of power to serve as role models that violence against women is not acceptable. Men in South Africa need to step up and take responsibility for the culture of violence and impunity and demand that their mothers, grandmothers, daughters, sisters, wives and girlfriends are treated with respect rather than with abuse. And it needs to come from the top down. Yes, President Zuma, I am talking to you.

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9 thoughts on “One in Four Men Admits to Rape in South Africa

  1. It is a sorry culture that abuses women as a matter of course but perhaps awareness of how HIV is spread might save some women abuse. Taking a shower after you rape a woman you suspect has HIV will not save you from the disease. Perhaps if President Zuma contracts HIV he will be more interested in proper sex education.

  2. I recall an article in Harper's in which the South African Human Rights Commission reported that children were playing games called "hit me" and/or "rape me". The school children would chase each other and pretend to rape or hit each other. The report went on to state that schools were the most common place for children to be assaulted and the second most likely place for a child to be robbed. Young people are twice as likely to be victims of crime than adults with almost 42% of students as victims of crime. The toilets were the most feared area of a school. More than 20% of all sexual assaults on children occurred at school.

  3. It is a sorry culture that abuses women as a matter of course but perhaps awareness of how HIV is spread might save some women abuse. Taking a shower after you rape a woman you suspect has HIV will not save you from the disease. Perhaps if President Zuma contracts HIV he will be more interested in proper sex education.

  4. I recall an article in Harper’s in which the South African Human Rights Commission reported that children were playing games called “hit me” and/or “rape me”. The school children would chase each other and pretend to rape or hit each other. The report went on to state that schools were the most common place for children to be assaulted and the second most likely place for a child to be robbed. Young people are twice as likely to be victims of crime than adults with almost 42% of students as victims of crime. The toilets were the most feared area of a school. More than 20% of all sexual assaults on children occurred at school.

  5. Pingback: Clinton Arrives in South Africa | Human Rights Now - Amnesty International USA Blog