Silence: South African Culture Of Sexual Violence
    By Josh Witten | June 19th 2009 12:59 AM | 5 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
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    On Wednesday, the Guardian (a newspaper that still has journalistic integrity) reported on a study (PDF of executive summary)by South Africa's Medical Research Council on rape and HIV.  The study found that 28% of men (sample size of 1738) admitted to having raped a woman or girl, and half of those reported committing multiple rapes.  They also found that 5% of men admitted to committing a rape in the past year.  Although women are the primary victims, 10% of males reported being raped by another man, with 3% of men admitting to raping another man or boy. 

    So called "corrective" rape (warning: video is not visually graphic, but is disturbing) is also being used to "convince" lesbians to be straight.

    The silence?  An estimated 88% of rapes go unreported.  The culture?  Only 7% of reported rapes lead to a conviction. 

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    *shudder* I think a lot of this comes down to cultural attitudes in South Africa, where for many cultures, women are seen as property. As a result, many of these so-called men don't even think they're doing anything wrong.

    What is the breakdown of offenders by race?

    (Note: for some reason, the verification process never seems to work for me.)

    Race was not identified as a significant factor from what I have seen.  The men interviewed were a representative sample, which would mean ~77% would be black, although this represents an extremely ethnically diverse set of people.  The exectuive summary of the report, which is now linked to in the article, identifies a number of significantly correlated factors, but they seem to be driven by socioeconomic and psychological issues.
    From the executive summary:

    "There were significant racial differences in rape reporting, mostly notably men who were Coloured were over represented [sic] among those who had raped."

    Race does appear to be significant. It's interesting that they omitted racial breakdowns in the report.

    I missed that line is my first read through.  Thank you for pointing out my omission.  I would not read anything into a summary not containing details of the break down by race. 

    Their result is that a single "race" is overrepresented, not that "race" in general is a significant "risk" factor, as it is for HIV infection.  Without getting to see the raw data and detailed methods, it is difficult to interpret this single result. 

    It must also be noted that "coloured" in South Africa has a different meaning than it traditionally does in the United States.  "Coloured" is a legal category that essentially has no biological meaning and represents a great diverist of people and culture across South Africa.  As I have said elsewhere, it seems in this case that racial categories are too general and do not provide the detailed, quality information necessary to understand the real variables contributing to this issus.