SA’s rape realities revealed

2012-04-21 15:16

“Yes, we had sex, but it wasn’t rape.”

This was the response from one of the boys accused of gang raping a mentally handicapped girl when he was confronted with a video of the event.

Daily Sun news editor Nahima Ahmed – whose newspaper broke the story that rocked South Africa this week – said the teenage boys did not resist arrest when they were confronted by police about what they did.

“The boys did not deny, they even said ‘We know why you’re here’ when the police arrived. They said they were not alone, and named their friends. They didn’t deny, but said ‘We didn’t force her’.

Which is not true, on the video she was screaming and begging. They admit ‘We had sex, but it wasn’t rape’,” she told City Press.

The video sparked outrage this week when a Rivonia, Johannesburg, mother discovered the video on her 16-year-old daughter’s cellphone and took it to the Daily Sun, who tracked down the perpetrators.

On the video several teenage boys are having sex with a 17-year old girl described as mentally handicapped.

Ahmed said a second video has surfaced, featuring another group of boys filmed gang raping the same girl.

A study by Medical Research Council (MRC) director Rachel Jewkes, titled “Understanding men’s health and use of violence: Interface of rape and HIV in South Africa”, found 27% of men admitted to having raped a woman.

Half of those admitted to raping more than one woman or girl, while 7% said they had raped more than 10 women.

“Asked about their age at the first time they had forced a woman or girl into sex, 9.8% said they were under 10 years old,” the 2009 study revealed.

It also found the rapists were better educated, but not likely to have a tertiary education.

“Men who were coloured were over-represented among those who had raped,” the study found.

Men who rape tend to earn more than R500 per month, but not more than R10 000.

“Parental absence was significantly associated with raping, as was the quality of affective relationship with parents related to raping. Experiences of bullying and being bullied was much more common among men who raped,” the study found.

In an as-yet unpublished study, Jewkes argues the lack of self-esteem and empathy play a role in men becoming sex offenders.

“There is considerable evidence that men who are sexually violent fail to form secure attachment bonds in childhood and have insecure attachment and relationship difficulties as adults,” Jewkes reports.

“High levels of sexual violence have been linked to patriarchal gender ideologies and to a crisis of masculinity in a context where working class African men have long been marginalised.

“The family domain became the primary sphere in which they could – coercively if necessary – re-assert their sense of masculinity,” said the study conducted by researcher Kate Wood.

“The democratic transition has posed serious challenges to the authoritarian notions of masculinity, leaving many men with a disempowering sense of irrelevance in the domestic sphere.”

Statistics about rape convictions in South Africa are hard to come by.

The National Prosecuting Authority does not keep separate conviction rates for sexual offences.

But NPA spokesperson Bulelwa Makeke said that 60% of women who report their rapes at government Thuthuzela centres see their attackers successfully prosecuted.

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