Shocking attitude to rape common in SA – study

2016-08-17 06:00

ALMOST one in 10 South Africans believe that forced sexual intercourse is appropriate in certain situations.

This is according to renowned market research company, Ipsos’s latest Pulse of the People study.

Ipsos found that the majority of South Africans (58%) agreed with the statement, “it is always wrong to have sex with someone against his or her will”.

However, eight percent of adults disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement.

Ipsos South Africa’s director of public affairs, Mari Harris, said they posed the question to different age groups across race groups in South Africa. The participants in the survey had to say whether they agreed, strongly agreed, disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statements .

“Although a firm majority of 58% strongly agreed, overall eight percent of adults in South Africa either strongly disagreed or disagreed with the statement,” she said.

Young people, aged between 15 and 17, expressed themselves as especially strongly opposed to forced intercourse.

A total of 3 861 face-to-face interviews were conducted with randomly selected South Africans for the survey.

The interviews were done in the homes and home languages of the interviewees by trained fieldworkers from all population groups.

“Interviews were done all over the country, from metropolitan areas to deep rural areas. This methodology ensured that the results are representative of the views of the universe [of the study] and that findings can be weighted and projected to the universe,” Harris said.

“According to United Nations statistics, approximately one in every three women (35%) worldwide experiences physical violence and/or sexual violence at some point in her life.”

“Around the globe, approximately 120 million girls experience forced intercourse or other forms of forced sexual acts at some point. Against this background, South Africa is thus not unique when it comes to the sexual abuse of women and children,” Harris said.

Respondents were also asked how well the South African government was handling violence against women and children. Only about four in every 10 (38%) adults said the government was handling the issue “very well” or “fairly well”.

The study further delved into the workings of men and women and how far society had come in achieving equality.

According to the study, almost a third (30%) of South African adults said that “a woman’s place is in the house”.

This figure was up from 24% in 2015.

“It is clear that we are very far from achieving the equality specified in our Constitution. However, it is not necessarily older people, like one would conventionally believe, who feel the strongest about this, but rather those in the 35-49 age group where 32% agreed with the statement,” said Harris.

In addition, 31% of people in the 35-49 age group (and 30% of South African­ adults overall) agreed with the statement “when jobs are scarce, men should have more rights to jobs than women”.

Harris suspected this was linked to competition for scarce job opportunities.

Other findings indicated the existence of a deep-seated and growing problem concerning perceptions about the abilities of women. This was reflected in opinions about education for girls and about women’s abilities as political leaders.

In many instances, women themselves did not have confidence in their own abilities.

“The active promotion of gender equality can be one of the most important building blocks in uniting South African men and women of all population groups,” said Harris.

Pietermaritzburg Child Welfare director Julie Todd, who works with rape victims, said the results of the survey directly linked to the “patriarchal society we live in today”.

She said the hierarchy in most organisations tended to be male.

“Society shows that men and boys dominate, and women are subservient.

“This, and the fact that we live in a very violent era, is the problem in society­,” Todd said.

- Reporter.

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