South Africa: New Statistics on Sexual Violence
Monday, December 6, 2010 7:10 AM

A recent government-funded study revealed a number of updated figures on sexual violence in South Africa.

The study found that over one-third of South African men in Gauteng province, home to Johannesburg, admit to having raped a woman, and 25% of women report that they have been raped.  Seven percent of the 487 men surveyed confirmed that they had participated in gang rape. Motivations for rape included exacting revenge on women that had rejected them and boredom; notably, however, two-thirds of men stated that they had raped due to "a sense of sexual entitlement."

"Rape is completely trivialized by a great number of men. It is seen as a legitimate activity," said Rachel Jewkes, a lead researcher in the study.

The report also found that only 1 in 25 rapes are actually reported to law enforcement, and 51% of the 511 women interviewed indicated that they have experienced violence from men. Of the men surveyed, 78% admit to having committed violence against a woman.

The study was conducted by the Medical Research Foundation in conjunction with a gender rights advocacy group. It is the first study of its kind in 12 years, based on community-level interview data with women. The same organization also conducted a study in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal province. That investigation found that 28% of men admitted to rape and an alarming one-third did not feel guilt over their crime.

Jewkes believes that South Africa's traumatic history of apartheid has shaped a culture of sexual violence and impunity in the country today, citing the fact that men with traumatic or abusive childhoods are more likely to commit rape. "We need to start interventions in childhood, focusing on building a more empowering childhood environment in South Africa, especially for boys," she says, "and we need to make it worth their while for women to report sexual violence."

Compiled from: Interagency Gender Working Group, The Huffington Post, (18 June 2009); More Than 1 in 3 SAfrican Men Admit to Rape: Study, (26 November 2010).