This article, from today’s Guardian, is just horrifying. It highlights research which asked South African men to anonymously indicate whether they had committed rape, and found that 28% admitted to raping a woman or girl, and 3% to raping a man. 1 in 10 men said they had been a victim of rape, perhaps indicating that men were more willing to admit to raping women than other men. Many have attacked more than one victim.
Professor Rachel Jewkes, who carried out the research, believes that the high rape levels are down to ‘ideas about masculinity based on gender hierarchy and the sexual entitlement of men. It’s rooted in an African ideal of manhood.’ I’d say it’s rooted in an ideal of manhood that extends well past Africa.
The President, Jacob Zuma, was himself accused of rape before his election:
His supporters demonstrated at the court house, verbally attacked his accuser and sang “burn the bitch, burn the bitch”. Zuma was eventually acquitted.
[Anti-rape campaignver Dean Peacock says] “We hear men saying, ‘If Jacob Zuma can have many wives, I can have many girlfriends.’ The hyper-masculine rhetoric of the Zuma campaign is going to set back our work in challenging the old model of masculinity.”
The rape epidemic has serious consequences for the spread of HIV:
The study, which had British funding, also found that men who are physically violent towards women are twice as likely to be HIV-positive. They are also more likely to pay for sex and to not use condoms.
Any woman raped by a man over the age of 25 has a one in four chance of her attacker being HIV-positive.
The British Crime Survey, which asks people if they have been a victim of crime, reveals that 1 in 20 women have been raped, and 1 in 10 sexually assaulted in the UK. I wonder what the results of a survey of the kind carried out in South Africa would be in Britain…