November 27, 2010
More than a third of South African men in a new survey admitted to committing rape at some point in their lives, says the study's authors.
The survey, by the government-funded Medical Research Council and non-profit organisation Gender Links, found that 37.4 percent of men in the north-central province of Gauteng admitted to committing rape at some point in their lives, while 25.3 percent of women said they had been victims of rape.
It follows up on a national survey carried out last year that found that more than one in four South African men admitted to having raped a woman or girl.
"The previous level was so high that we didn't expect it to be even higher," Rachel Jewkes, a researcher at the Medical Research Council, told AFP.
Researchers surveyed 487 men and 511 women in Gauteng, the country's second-most populous province, which is home to Pretoria, the capital, and Johannesburg, the largest city.
The study group was 90 percent black and 10 percent white, reflecting the province's demographics, authors said.
Over half the women surveyed said they had experienced some form of violence -- emotional, economic, physical or sexual -- in their lifetimes, and 78.3 percent of men admitted to perpetrating some form of violence against women.
South Africa has one of the world's highest rates of reported rape, with 36,190 cases -- 99 per day -- reported to police in 2007, but experts say that only a small number of attacks are actually reported.
The MRC study found that only one in 25 rapes had been reported to the police.
South Africa has the highest number of HIV infections in the world, compounding the trauma rape victims face.
In the 2009 study, one in five confessed rapists tested positive for HIV.
*******************Comment: I can't imagine that any South African reading this article is entirely shocked by the prevalence of rape in our country. Perhaps some may be shocked by the sheer number of men who admit to rape.
Rape is an endemic problem in South Africa because we are, in large part, a rude, violent, and drunk nation. I have said this here before and my position has not changed.
Violence is at the core of who we are and no matter what stream of blame (causation) is pointed to it hardly brings any hope that the course of violence against women, in particular, will be altered.
Alcohol abuse, like violence, is rife and it cuts across the demographic lines of race, ethnicity, class, gender, or religion for that matter.
In the too early hours of this morning I waited to board a South African Airways flight from Nairobi to Johannesburg in an enclosed area where many South Africans of all stripes and persuasions were gathered.
Despite the hour it was not a quiet and sleep deprived crowd in a typical sense. Somewhere in the middle was a group of about eight to ten middle aged men and women who were just loud and obnoxious.
I found their behaviour unbecoming.
When I was finally seated in the back of the plane a very pleasant young man in his twenties started chatting about his week-long visit to Nairobi. He explained that he was part of a delegation from the Gauteng legislature.
I asked him if he had fun in Nairobi and he answered: "Not as much fun as my colleagues who are still drunk from the partying they did right up to the time we departed for the airport at 4am."
As we continued to chat I watched the same group of middle-aged buffoons make their tipsy way in recurring waves to the toilets just behind us.
How can this be right? Should they not know better than to be drunk in public?
If the members/staff of the legislature of the most powerful province in South Africa see nothing wrong with being drunk and loud in public it does not bode well for the rest of society.
I wondered about message they were sending and it made me recall a question a Kenyan taxi driver posed to me on Friday during a long drive back to my hotel.
He asked: "Why are South Africans so violent even now that your country is free?"
I mumbled some answer to which he replied: "The South Africans I have met have not been very friendly. Black and white it does not matter. Kenyans will tell you that they do not like the South Africans even though they admire Mr. Mandela," he said with a smile and laugh.
"Yeah I can understand that. I try to avoid most South Africans just about anywhere. Even in South Africa," I replied with a smile.
"Give me hope Joanna"
PS: If any peer/supervisor from the Gauteng legislature happens to be reading here and wants to check in on the drunk delegation see the travel details for South African Airways flight 183; November 27; departure 7:05am from Nairobi to Joburg.