Teachers are still using old version of 'rape justification' textbook

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In July last year W24 reported on a Life Orientation textbook that sparked outrage on social media because of a passage that promoted victim blaming and rape culture. The Department of Basic Education (DBE) promised to rectify the issue, yet the offending books are still in circulation.

“The textbooks have been revised,” Terence Khala, Media Relations Officer at the Department of Basic Education, told W24.  “The publisher is currently reprinting the textbook; however, revisions have not been made available to provinces.”

The exercise, which appeared in the Grade 10 Life Orientation textbook called Focus, first drew widespread attention after pictures of the offending piece were posted on social media last year.

Read more: Life Orientation textbook: teaching girls that rape is their fault

In the example, a girl called Angie tells of how she went to a party where they were drinking a lot of alcohol. She is then pushed into a room with an unknown man where she is raped.

One of the questions the pupils are then asked is to “list two ways in which Angie's behaviour led to sexual intercourse." Activists were quick to point out how learners were being asked to justify rape.

The DBE has supplied the revised part of the textbook. Among other improvements, teachers are told to “explain why rape is wrong, even when a person is drunk.”

The revised textbooks:

Critics have pointed out that the offending piece is still being taught in schools, as the new textbooks are still being printed and not all teachers are aware of the revisions.

Khala has urged teachers to make use of the revisions as supplied to the different provincial departments in this case and not the original textbook version.

Language is important when teaching about rape, Sarah Strydom, Rape Crisis in Cape Town advises.  “We should focus on the perpetrator and ask what led to him raping her, which opens up a much larger conversation about the attitudes and social norms that condone and promote sexual violence.”

“The revisions are definitely an improvement,” Strydom says. “However, it does take more than telling children “rape is always wrong” to change their behaviour – especially if they don’t see what they are doing as rape. The discussion could be around consent, and what constitutes it.”

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