The Truth about Rape in South Africa

This morning a 91year old woman at an old age home in the middle of Sandton was raped. The rapist broke in at 2:45am and left the premises at 5:45am. He did not steal anything and knew that the electric fencing did not work and how to gain access to the property.

What was the point of this senseless violence?

“Corrective rape”, rape as an initiation into gangs, prostitution, incestuous rape – I cannot tell you how much senseless, hateful and destructive violence I see our children go through on a DAILY basis. Women are raped every minute in our Country. That’s right, every minute.

Rape is on the increase yet we continue to sexualise everything. What is it going to take to get our society to shift mindset from sex to constructive and meaningful media interactions?
Women are encouraged to sell their bodies and even images of their bodies for money. What has FHM or Playboy done to enhance and grow young women in South Africa?

What about the headlines from the other day about mentally challenged girl that was gang raped and tortured? What initiates the blatant abuse and destruction of another human being?

When the Top TV pornography channel was rejected, there were cries for freedom of expression, right to view pornography, etc, etc. Along with that outcome, there was also light shed on the direct link between sexual violence and pornography.

Call me conservative, but until you have met a girl who has been sold into a life of prostitution where she unwillingly is raped every day by countless men, you will not understand the severity of the problem in our Country. The sad and painful fact is that my above example is not one in a million, but more common that I would care to admit.

Remember that brothel in Durban that was exposed in the news a few weeks ago where 15 teenage girls were kept locked behind bars like animals? I have been to brothels like this, I have seen women and girls enslaved and tortured and forced into a life of drugs to cover their pain.
I have seen children being raised in these brothels, exposed to the disease and destruction on a daily basis, often ending up in the same places as their mothers because they know no better.

How do we solve this problem?

I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again – if there wasn’t a market for it, it wouldn’t be happening.
This is a controversial statement that I am aware of, but if men were not buying sex, women would not become sex slaves, ripped from their families and trafficked half way around the world to serve some man’s sexual needs.

How do we change this culture?

How do we shift a mindset?

How do we change the mindset of a man who thinks that “if a woman wears a short skirt in public, that he has a right to rape her”?


I’m stumped.

*Please note that all of my opinions are expressed in my private capacity and do not reflect the opinions of the organisations that I am affiliated to


11 thoughts on “The Truth about Rape in South Africa

  1. Eish, I don’t have an answer, our country has this problem perhaps more than others. But I do believe that our world is out of balance, and all I can do is pray, and do ceremonies and treat my girlfriend, my neices, and all women that I come by with respect and dignity and honour!

  2. There is a simple answer to this problem but not one many or any woman wish to face. Woman create rapists and sexual deviants. Not men. Woman ae less capable of bringing up their boys now than ever before. They spoil them and make girls out of them. They grow up to be brats as teens, brats and self indulgent as young men believing woman are their to serve them and pleasure them. Take note how few young men carry their mothers parcels, push the trolley, stand aside for a woman. They grow up believing every woman is there for them. To do their bidding. Woman have lost self respect and will drape themselves over anything to market anything, to them it is just money. They are popular, they have arrived. Parents celebrate their success of “arrival”. Nudity is not private. Marriage is not sacred. Discussing sex is common place. So while the oppulent celebrate their freedom, the impoverished are bound in bidding. Woman create monsters. See that teenager lying on his spine watching TV in your home, the one who does not wash the car, assist in the house, yes, that one….he is tomorrows rapist, abuser, user of sex girls…. time woman stood up and looked not at men but at themselves. We did this. We grow them weak and when they can’t cope and lose their woman, children and homes, we take them back in to serve them some more.

    • this is an absolutely disgusting post. some women may not be the greatest mothers but do the fathers or other male elders hold no responsiblity? If women held that much power over others then the world would be a much different place.

  3. @ Chris – I believe to start the blame game is short sighted and statements like these are irresponsible! We are collectively responsible for the nurturing of our society both men & women. The scales keep tipping, an equilibrium is the only answer, idealic but the only answer. We have spent many years grooming our powerful men at the demise of our women. We now focus our energies on empowering our women and by so doing perpetuate the unjust feelings of the insecure man. Where do we meet?

    As our society has evolved (or dissolved) rights of passage have disappeared too. Some of these traditions may have been archaic and possibly cruel at times (another topic for another day but hear me out) but I believe there may have been some value to it. Girls learnt what it meant to be a woman and boys learnt what it meant to be a man. Those values were imparted in safe, secure environments. None of that exist any longer. The abscent father – the abscent mother – the abscent family circle and the abscent community!!!

    We now place more value on the superficial stuff. We spend more time focusing on how many material things we can gather, how much money, how many pairs of shoes, how many cars, how many women etc. Where do we focus on how much of a human being we are!

    The responsibility is within each of us and we have lost our values. I don’t even think we have a value system any longer. We aim to break everything in a bid to express OUR FREEDOM!

    We have become the most obnoxiously breed of human to date – Yet we have “evolved”
    What’s our excuse???

    So Chris we value your opinion but please be responsible with your words!

  4. Echo Yasmeen’s sentiments.

    Go back to our core founding beliefs of Ubuntu – a person is not a person without people. We are all a result of our community and we are part of our community and therefore responsible for one another.

    Most importantly, Yas spoke of our value systems and focusing on how human we all are.

    Re a solution:

    “It’s about engaging men and boys in the dialogue… and then the dialogue starts to move.”
    – Abby Maffei

  5. Both Chris and Yasmeen… I think the saddest is not the actual abuse of women or specifically rape, but comments such as what I am reading now. And I say this being a single mom with a teenage son and an absent father, community, or whatever. I am perturbed that we think that values such as family can solve the problem. Or the fact that I actually do not allow my son to do dishes, etc as I encourage studying more than mediocre work which is definitely not going to groom him to be more responsible. And what are values… Honesty, integrity, blah blah blah…

    Attitude changes behavior which in turns changes your way of life. If my son has not change his attitude towards himself first how do I expect him to change his attitude towards others. As much as we want to change the way we look at life, remember that material things are in our faces… Shoes, clothes, etc. peer pressure, amongst others. All we can do is hope that our boys do not view life as a roller coaster… Life is hard, and we own the rules.

  6. thank you for writing about this. i have been following this subject for a while now and it is an absolute human rights catastrophe. i recently read a report by Interpol that a woman is raped there every 17 seconds. I can’t even understand it. I have many of the same questions as you posted here. I am a photojournalist and am working on coming to SA in a few months to work on a book to hopefully inspire the world to stand up against this.

  7. Haroun we need more men like you!

    Cris and Yasmeen you are both right. Rape has multiple causes. The starting point is what mothers teach their sons, not only by their words but also by their actions. As Cris points out, if mothers act like slaves to their sons then they are teaching them that women are inferior. Rapists see women as inferior.

    There is an old saying that what a child learns in his first seven years stays with him for life. In light of this, Cris’s views are extremely important. She is not blaming, she is looking at causes. If we know what the causes are, it narrows our search for solutions e.g. what can mothers and fathers do to ensure that their sons value women?

    This relates to Yasmeen’s focus on values. I would like to look at our values around the concept of power – because rape is not only about sex but also about power. Rapists equate power with domination. Do we teach our children that there are difference forms of power? That responsibility (Yasmeen’s point) is an example of a form of power? That responsibility does not incorporate domination? Do we teach our children about Gandhi? For me he is the perfect illustration of the power of responsibility – responsibility to himself, to his family, to the immediate community and to his country. He achieved the impossible without dominating anyone or inflicting violence on anyone. How can we teach our children his lessons?

    Why do rapists need to exert their “power”? Once again there are several reasons. One of the more surprising reasons was revealed in a UK research project where the researchers interviewed convicted rapists. They asked them what led to the rape. Most of the rapists said that prior to the rape they had had a heated argument with their girlfriend/wife. They said that because women are better at arguing they (the men) had lost the argument. This made them unbearably angry. How could they lose an argument to a “mere” woman – back to Cris’s point about how boys are raised to view women as inferior. It also raises the power issue and their need to dominate women. Because of their superficial interpretation of power, the rapists felt humiliated and emasculated when they lost the argument. They took their revenge in rape. As with bullies, their targets were the most vulnerable and easily dominated people they could find.

    Another cause of the “I’ll show you who’s boss” view of power is an extreme intolerance of values which are different to theirs. We’ve seen this with “corrective” rape. It also applies to differences in race, religion and culture. Where does this intolerance of other views/lifestyles come from? You’ve guessed it. It starts with the parents: “These are our values. They are the right values and any other values are wrong/bad/unacceptable.” Bob Marley spoke of the need to “free ourselves from mental slavery”. How can we ensure that our children never experience mental slavery?

    Our children watch us and we ourselves need to walk the talk if we are to address the causes of this scourge.

    • Thanks Lesley. I’m taking the words, “Be the change you want to see in the world” to heart. In the past I volunteered at the local police station in the victim empowerment centre, to be on call when a women was in the act of reporting her rape.

      And what I learnt there, will last me for the rest of my life, and continues to inspire me to be the kind of man who will nurture, love and respect women, so that both genders may realise how much we actually need each other.

  8. Great Post girl. It is a frustrating problem, and too some degree self perpetuating. My solution (which is a little controversial) is make prostitution legal. That way the industry is out in the open and can be regulated. Part of the problem is that sex and all its connotations have always been taboo and forbidden. Once people start having conversations about it, then maybe awareness will result in a drop in acceptability of the negativity

  9. Hi Karissa,

    This goes deep, it hurts.

    I am amazed at the support that the leadership has garnered to stand together opposing the

    artwork that has the country in uproar. I am left weak by the sight of grown men hand in hand

    marching to the gallery about a picture. These men’s energy is needed in reshaping the ailing

    family in our country.

    Rape – how about our government (and I wrote to the Presidency last year, no answer or acknowlegement

    of my letter) help our boys, young men and other grown men to understand what family is and the

    role a woman, young girl plays in building a nation?

    How about volunteering (just like they managed to do for the march) a day in the week to educate

    scores of young men about the value of life, and also dispatch women in government to go and

    educate and empower women about themselves and projects they can start in community building.

    How about the leadership of the country releasing statements (on going) about its stance on the

    violence against women and children?

    Our youth needs a voice in government that will speak about the abuse of alcohol and its effects in

    families, a voice to speak about drugs, how they are to make good choices keeping in mind that our

    nation needs healthy and sober people. How about a leadership that teaches that partying is not all

    there is in life, a voice that will speak for the many black and women in other races who are left with

    children who have no fathers. How about addressing these gaps through policies that will force the names

    of fathers to be attached to their children’s birth certificates and that will stop these men in their deadly

    track when its noted that his name appears in more than one unmarried woman’s childs birth certificate?

    I am tired and hurt and will write another letter to the Presidency.

    Patience Noah

    This is what my cousin wrote on FB……..

    Napo Mokoetle:

    has been pondering….What is Gwede Mantashe and his crew’s outcry and today’s march really protecting? Is Jacob Zuma’s behavior really dignified? For me, a position held by a person does NOT automagically dignify them! I think back on matters relating to JZ and in my view something just doesn’t add up here.

    Mr Mantashe: How about you with the same amount of conviction or more, call for and organ…ize a march for recognition of the dignity of the many women and children disrespected and violated every hour in this country.

    – A 17 year-old mentally challenged girl was gang raped & the video went
    viral. No one marched.
    – An 8-year-old girl was raped by a 15 year-old boy & her eyes gouged out.
    No one marched.
    – Entire provinces are without school text books – it’s almost June. No one
    – Our imminent police chief is a gangster & has brought our police service
    to its knees. No one marched.
    – Our country has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world. No one
    – Our democracy is going down the toilet but no one marches.

    But our country goes hysterical over a painting! We threaten lawsuits,
    protests & violent reprisals. And yet nudity has been part of art for ages…

    Where are our priorities???

    What are we thinking??????!!!!

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