Heart of Darkness

South Africa’s Rape Culture

April 24, 2012

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South Africa’s Rape Culture

Media reports suggesting South Africa has been “shocked” by the viral rape video involving a young Sowetan girl are almost certainly exaggerating the public reaction. South Africans are inured to this sort of news. Last December a male nurse in Bloemfontein was charged with raping a cancer patient while a female nurse pinned the victim to a bed. With an estimated one in 25 rapes being reported—and then only one in 25 charges resulting in conviction, meaning that only one in every 625 rapes leads to conviction—rape is a way of life. Most South African males seem ambivalent about the illegality of forcible entry.

In South Africa youths jokingly refer to gang rape as “jackrolling,” and the poor Sowetan girl savaged in this incident was known as “Jackpot.” Retarded and in her teens, she was allegedly raped repeatedly by at least seven men between the ages of 14 and 20. Mental-health organizations say the mentally impaired are vulnerable because they are unable to make a cogent report to the authorities.

“Women’s liberation has yet to reach the Dark Continent.”

It was not long ago that Jacob Zuma, South Africa’s jocular president (he has just taken his fourth wife) was on trial for rape and the country’s public was availed of all the lurid details. The gist was that a young girl found herself exposed and defenseless in a strange home when the future president demanded sexual relief. After a lengthy trial that included Zuma’s revelation that he once showered after having unprotected sex with an HIV-positive woman, Zuma was acquitted.

In the midst of the trial Julius Malema, now the leader of the ANC Youth League, entered the fray with visible glee and publicly ridiculed the girl’s claim of rape. Instead of complaining, Malema said the poor girl should have been grateful for the masculine attentions the country’s future president showered on her. This view attracted raucous applause from a wide spectrum of African supporters. Old habits die hard, and in the traditional African culture, total female submission to male demands is the norm.

This fact, along with evidence to suggest that African males have higher testosterone levels and libidos compared to the majority of their white or Asian counterparts, sets the stage for excess. It has also helped spread HIV around the continent.


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