More Than 1 in 3 South African Men Say They’ve Committed Rape, New Survey Says

Nastasya Tay, Los Angeles Times, November 26, 2010

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A 2010 study led by the government-funded Medical Research Foundation says that in Gauteng province, home to South Africa’s most populous city of Johannesburg, more than 37 percent of men said they had raped a woman. Nearly 7 percent of the 487 men surveyed said they had participated in a gang rape.

More than 51 percent of the 511 women interviewed said they’d experienced violence from men, and 78 percent of men said they’d committed violence against women.

A quarter of the women interviewed said they’d been raped, but the study says only one in 25 rapes are reported to police.

A survey by the same organization in 2008 found that 28 percent of men in Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces said they had raped a woman or girl. Of the men who had committed rape, one third did not feel guilty, said Rachel Jewkes, a lead researcher on both studies.

Two-thirds of the men surveyed in that study said they raped because of a sense of sexual entitlement. Other popular motivating factors included a desire to punish women who rejected or angered them, and raping out of boredom, Jewkes said.

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Jewkes believes South Africa’s history of racial division and associated trauma is part of the reason of the high incidence of sexual violence in the country.

“Apartheid has contributed to culture of impunity surrounding rape in South Africa,” said Jewkes. Men who were abused or experienced trauma during their childhood are much more likely to rape, she said, adding that apartheid destroyed family life, fostering violence and anti-social behavior.

The apartheid period also saw very little enforcement of common law, which has contributed to a culture of impunity, said Jewkes.

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