One in four South African men questioned in a survey said they had raped someone and nearly half admitted having attacked more than one victim.The findings that 73% of men who have raped started raping before leaving their teens is important especially considering how frequently people in many countries dismiss or minimize rape committed by teenagers.
The study, by the country's Medical Research Council, also found three out of four who admitted rape attacked for the first time while in their teens. It said practices such as gang rape were common because they were considered a form of male bonding.
The MRC spoke to 1,738 men in KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape provinces. The research was conducted in both rural and urban areas and included all racial groups.
If this survey accurately represents the overall population of South Africa or is even close to doing so then rape by teenage boys cannot be explained away by the physiology of teen boys because over 80% of those surveyed did not rape as teenage boys.
What this survey shows is the danger which comes from minimizing most rapes committed by teenagers. This also shows why formal and informal rape prevention efforts need to focus on the behavior and choices made by boys related to sex. This type of prevention is not in any way based on the idea that all boys are rapists, it is based on the idea that prevention needs to be directed at those who are taking the action which we want to prevent before a significant number of those boys have made the choice to rape.
Rape prevention which focuses on controlling the behavior of potential victims tacitly supports rapes committed against those who don't comply with certain social norms. This support for certain rapes shows itself in the backlash against the alleged victims in certain reported rapes.
Five percent of the men surveyed admitted raping a woman or girl in the last year. If that rate is consistent across the estimated population of 47 million then the number of rapes committed in South Africa in the last year is so high I can't make myself estimate the number of rapes.
Girls and women weren't the only targets. Ten percent of the men surveyed said they had been raped by other men and 3% of the men surveyed had raped a boy or man using coercion. These rapes provide another reason why only warning girls and women about the risk of becoming a rape victim are ineffective.
The story mentions that gang rape is considered by some boys and men as a way to strengthen male relationships and this is an idea which must be debunked in rape prevention efforts so that boys understand that committing rape -- especially gang rape -- represents failure rather than success. Shared failure is just failure on a bigger scale.
Labels: Violence Against Women