ANALYSIS | Amanda Gouws: Rape is endemic in SA. Why the ANC government keeps missing the mark | News24 (2022)

South Africa has one of the highest rape statistics in the world, but policies to deal with this high level of sexual violence tends to individualise rape, giving the impression that only some men rape, writes Amanda Gouws.

Rape in South Africa is systemic and endemic. The country’s annual police crime statistics confirm this. There were 42,289 rapes reported in 2019/2020, as well as 7,749 sexual assaults. This translates into about 115 rapes a day.

South Africa has one of the highest rape statistics in the world, even higher than some countries at war.

The picture has been more or less the same every year since the early 2000s, with the numbers going slightly up or down.

But policies to deal with the urgency of these very high levels of sexual violence tend to individualise rape in a way that creates the impression that only some men rape. And that they are the "rotten apples" or the “monsters”.

The response from the police – as well as the governing African National Congress (ANC) – underscores the failure to appreciate the systemic nature of the problem.

This was evident again recently at an ANC policy conference where it was clear that ministers and the ANC Women’s League continue to individualise rape. The conference agreed to a draft policy calling for chemical castration for rapists.

READ |Melanie Verwoerd: If castration is not the solution to GBV, what is?

In my view, this is misplaced and shows a lack of understanding of rape as a social problem. Firstly, chemical castration does not work. Research has shown that chemical castration does not really contribute to reducing levels of rape. The reason for this is that chemical castration does not change attitudes – or the underlying violent behaviour of rapists. It merely acts as a punishment.

Secondly, the fact that the idea has been backed by the ANC shows that it continues to miss the point as to why men rape women.

Extensive research has been done on the motives of rape. The overwhelming conclusion is that rape is not about sexual desire. It is about power and an entitlement to women’s bodies.

This was horrifically illustrated in South Africa at the end of June when eight young women were brutally gang raped in West Village outside Krugersdorp, west of Johannesburg, while filming a music video on a mine dump. The crew was also robbed.

The perpetrators were brazen and felt entitled to inflict this brutal violation on young bodies. What happened in Krugersdorp clearly displays this type of entitlement by violating women’s bodies at gunpoint.

Missing the point

The state’s response to the attack was to round up 80 illegal miners, called zama zamas. Police statements suggested that they were foreigners who lived near the crime scene.

Very quickly the focus shifted from the brutal rapes and eight seriously violated women to illegal mining. The women became a footnote.

READ |OPINION: Krugersdorp rapes - Care and nuance needed in reporting on horrific attack

It is the same display of hasty work by the police to show that they are doing something. This has happened before such as in the case of the rape and killing of Uyinene Mrwetyana, a University of Cape Town student in August 2019. She was brutally raped and killed in a post-office when she went to collect a parcel. Action after the outcry from citizens about her senseless killing and protests quickly died down.

The latest attack also exposes police incompetence to deal with illegal mine workers who have been terrorising West Village for years. Illegal miners allegedly regularly rape women from West Village, and despite women reporting the rapes, the police were reluctant to investigate.

But the "foreigners are responsible for rape" narrative is the same as men being singled out as "bad apples". It ignores the systemic nature of rape in South Africa. And it creates the impression that South African men do not rape. The high statistics, however, show that many South African men rape.

Understanding rape

Intimacy and injury, a recent book on #MeToo and how it was experienced in the Global South, makes it clear in the introduction that women in post-colonial societies bear the brunt of government intransigence to deal with violence. They write:

newly independent nation states and local elites failed to take account of this {sexual violence}, in spite of elaborate rhetorical commitments, leaving feminists to push for state and law to redress long histories of sexual violence. Political leaders and state functionaries – the police and the army – participated in an overall culture of normalising sexual violence and promoting a high tolerance for such violence over other crimes. Sexual violence has been at the heart of feminist concerns in India and South Africa … (p5-6).

What this suggests is that when rape is normalised, dealing with rape after it has occurred is too late. Preventative measures need to be put in place, such as addressing high levels of crime, including rape with impunity.

And the attitudes of men about women’s bodies and toxic masculinity need to be addressed through state level interventions, especially in schools to change the socialisation of boys.

The state should also prioritise the upgrading and resourcing of laboratories where forensic DNA evidence is analysed. The huge backlog in South Africa means that victims wait for justice for years, and may never get it.

In 2017 the government was forced to take decisive action on gender based violence following a series of marches and protests by activists who mobilised under the banner #TotalShutDown. They demanded action against gender-based violence. In thewake of this activism a National Strategic Plan on Gender Based Violence and Femicide was developed, and is now being rolled out.

This plan rests on six pillars:

  • accountability and leadership;

  • prevention and rebuilding socialcohesion,

  • justice, safety and protection;

  • care, support and healing;

  • economic empowerment; and

  • research and information management.

The plan speaks to the systemic nature of gender based violence. But it also clearly shows that it will need long term efforts, with success only beingdetermined over time.

The truth is that there are no easy and quick fixes, such as the ANC’s recent castration idea which falls short on a range of scores. Firstly, because rape is about power. This is evident from the fact that many rapes are committed with objects such as sticks, brooms and glass bottles. So, those who are chemically impotent will find other ways to violate women.

Secondly, such a policy would violate the human rights of perpetrators, such as bodily integrity. Rapists still have human rights even when convicted of rape. Such a law would therefore, also be unconstitutional.

What rape does

University of Stellenbosch philosopher Louise du Toit, in her book The Philosophical Investigation of Rape, clearly explains the damage of rape – as an injury of the spirit. It destroys the victim’s sense of self, her trust in others and her trust in the world.

These are things that cannot be regained. As she states on p85

The horizon of this new, shrunken world is the victim’s physical pain, fear of death and actual reduction to the less-than-human… {she} is reduced to her body, lived as a thing, object, inanimate, finite, mortal…

This is the trauma, which the eight women raped in Krugersdorp, now have to live with. As well as the tens of thousands of South Africa’s other rape victims.ANALYSIS | Amanda Gouws: Rape is endemic in SA. Why the ANC government keeps missing the mark | News24 (1)

Amanda Gouws, Professor of Political Science and Chair of the South African Research Initiative in Gender Politics, Stellenbosch University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


Is rape an endemic? ›

Rape in South Africa is systemic and endemic. The country's annual police crime statistics confirm this. There were 42,289 rapes reported in 2019/2020, as well as 7,749 sexual assaults. This translates into about 115 rapes a day.

What does the South African law say about rape? ›

Rape occurs when a person forces another to have sexual intercourse without their consent. This is a crime and must be reported. The SOAA also makes it a crime for a person to force another person to rape someone.

Why awareness about rape is important? ›

Awareness and education are the most effective and meaningful ways to prevent rape. The number of forcible rapes will decrease only when women realize that rape can happen to them and when men understand what constitutes rape.

What is gender based violence South Africa? ›

Gender-based violence can include sexual, physical, mental and economic harm inflicted in public or in private. It also includes threats of violence, coercion and manipulation.

Which country has the highest rape statistics 2022? ›

Here are the 10 countries with the highest rape rates:
  • Botswana - 92.93.
  • Lesotho - 82.68.
  • South Africa - 72.10.
  • Bermuda - 67.29.
  • Sweden - 63.54.
  • Suriname - 45.21.
  • Costa Rica - 36.70.
  • Nicaragua - 31.60.

Which state has highest rape statistics? ›

According to NCRB 2021 statistics, Rajasthan reported the highest number of rapes among Indian states, followed by Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

What are the 3 causes of gender-based violence? ›

What causes gender-based violence?
  • Cultural factors.
  • Legal factors.
  • Economic factors.
  • Political factors.

What can the government do to reduce GBV? ›

Five ways governments are responding to violence against women and children during COVID-19
  • Expansion of helplines and information sharing. ...
  • Funding shelters and other safe accommodation options for survivors. ...
  • Expansion of access to services for survivors. ...
  • Limiting risk factors associated with violence.
8 Apr 2020

What are three contributing factors that led to gender-based violence? ›

Three causes of gender-based violence
  • Harmful gender norms. Gender stereotypes are sometimes used to attempt to justify violence against women. ...
  • Hunger. Just as empowering women can help eliminate hunger, food scarcity also leads to increased gender-based violence. ...
  • War and conflict.

Which country has the highest rape statistics? ›

South Africa

Which country has lowest crime rate? ›

Top 20 Safest Countries in the World (2022 Global Peace Index — lower is better):
  • Hungary — 1.411.
  • Finland — 1.439.
  • Croatia — 1.440.
  • Germany — 1.462.
  • Norway — 1.465.
  • Malaysia — 1.471.
  • Bhutan — 1.481.
  • Slovakia — 1.499.

Which country has lowest rape statistics 2020? ›

Liechtenstein tops the list of countries that have reported minor rape cases. Liechtenstein has a population of 38,137, and no cases of rape we reported in 2020. Egypt was second on the list, reporting a rape incidence of 0.10 per 100,000 people.

Which state has highest rape cases in 2021? ›

Rajasthan recorded the highest number of rape cases in the country in 2021, according to data recently released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).

What are major causes of gender-based violence in South Africa? ›

These factors interact with a number of drivers, such as social norms (which may be cultural or religious), low levels of women's empowerment, lack of social support, socio-economic inequality, and substance abuse.

What is the main cause of violence? ›

The Encyclopaedia of Psychology defines violence as “an extreme form of aggression, such as assault, rape or murder.” There are many causes of violence including “frustration, exposure to violent media, violence in the home or neighbourhood and a tendency to see other people's actions as hostile even when they're not.

What are 10 causes of violence? ›

10 Most Common Causes of Domestic Violence in Relationship
  • Mental problems.
  • Poverty and unemployment.
  • Education.
  • Young parents.
  • Relationship Retention Behavior.
  • Historical Factors.
  • Cultural Factors.
  • Self Defence.

What can be done to reduce gender-based violence in South Africa? ›

Make your voice heard by declaring publicly that enough is enough:
  • challenge the normalisation of violence against women and children.
  • challenge gender stereotype and roles.
  • challenge condoning of violence against women and children.
  • challenge sexist jokes and remarks about women.

How can we stop gender-based abuse that is happening in our community? ›

Three Things You Can Do About Gender-Based Violence
  1. Educate yourself and others about GBV. The first line of prevention is education. ...
  2. Use your voice on social media to bring awareness to GBV. Using social media can help you connect to others outside your normal social circles. ...
  3. Sponsor a woman survivor of conflict and war.
28 Nov 2017

What are the ways to prevent violence in the society? ›

Prevention Strategies
Preventing Youth Violence
Connect youth to caring adults and activitiesMentoring programs After-school programs
Create protective community environmentsModify the physical and social environment Reduce exposure to community-level risks Street outreach and community norm change
5 more rows

How does gender-based violence affect the community in South Africa? ›

We now know that, using a conservative estimate, gender-based violence costs South Africa between R28. 4 billion and R42. 4 billion per year – or between 0.9% and 1.3% of GDP annually. We've learned that individuals and families continue to bear the greatest proportion of costs due to GBV.

How does lack of education cause gender-based violence? ›

gender-based violence. Low levels of education can increase the risk of experiencing or perpetrating violence. In contrast, higher levels of education can reduce such risks, and result in changes in attitudes and behaviours that may lead to abuse.

What are the main causes of gender-based violence give 5 causes? ›

10 Causes of Gender Inequality
  • #1. Uneven access to education. ...
  • #2. Lack of employment equality. ...
  • #3. Job segregation. ...
  • #4. Lack of legal protections. ...
  • #5. Lack of bodily autonomy. ...
  • #6. Poor medical care. ...
  • #7. Lack of religious freedom. ...
  • #8. Lack of political representation.

Is marital rape a crime in South Africa? ›

While marital rape is punishable under South African criminal law, it is not in Nigeria. In this paper, the provisions of the South African Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Other Related Matters) Act of 2007, the Criminal Code Act, and the Penal Code Act – Nigeria in relation to rape and marital rape – are analysed.

What age is statutory rape in South Africa? ›

With Act 32 of 2007, it is illegal for any person under the age of 16 to consent or be involved in any sexual act, thus both parties can be prosecuted for statutory rape regardless of their ages.

How long does DNA stay in a rape victim? ›

Finally, the authors cite anecdotal reports of spermatozoa persisting “in the vaginas of rape-murder victims for 70 days (citation 5) and three to four months” (citation 13).

What was the first country to Criminalise marital rape? ›

Poland was the first country to explicitly criminalise marital rape in 1932. Australia, under the influence of the second wave of feminism in 1976 was the first common law country to pass reforms and criminalise marital rape.

How many states allow spousal rape? ›

Since 1993, all 50 states and DC have enacted laws against marital rape. The only marital exemption that still exists in some states is for statutory rape.

What is Bill c127? ›

Sexual Assault: Bill C-127 (1983):

Bill C-127 abolished the offences of rape, attempted rape and indecent assault and introduced a three-tiered structure for sexual assault offences. C-127 also eased the circumstances under which police could lay charges in incidents of sexual and non-sexual assault.

Is DNA required for a rape conviction? ›

The Bombay High Court has held that a DNA test cannot be said to be conclusive evidence in a case of rape and can only be used as corroborative evidence.

How long does sperm DNA last on clothes? ›

DNA profiles from laundered semen stains recovered at least 8 months after deposition. Micrograms of DNA and full DNA profiles recovered, irrespective of wash conditions. No significant decline in DNA quantity and profile quality after multiple washes.

How long can DNA stay on clothes? ›

In summer, the time period for erasing the bulk of DNA was 4 hours regarding epithelial samples and more than 1 day for blood samples in pond and river environments. All in all, the results demonstrate that DNA could still be recovered from clothes exposed to water for more than 1 week.

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