How to Stop Rape
Who rapes in South Africa?
By far the majority of rapists are men. Men who rape come from all different backgrounds. Research has found that men who rape share some common experiences, beliefs and behaviours.
Common experiences include:
- Not having a caring, positive father figure
- Leaving school at an early age
- Experience of violence at home or in the community
- Poor communication at home
- Witnessing or experiencing sexual abuse
- Experience of being bullied
- Alcohol and drug abuse
Three quarters of men who rape do it for the first time before they are 20 years old, and most rape more than once.
Men who rape have negative beliefs about women, about relationships and about sex. Some common beliefs:
- They believe that their sexual partners do not have the right to say no to sex.
- They believe that they are entitled to sex whenever they feel aroused.
- They believe that women are inferior to men.
- They believe that they if they buy women drinks or gifts that she owes them sex.
- They believe that they can tell a partner what clothes to wear and control where their partners should go and which friends she sees.
Most men who rape also often have negative beliefs about themselves:
- They find it hard to communicate with women and have intimate relationships
- They feel depressed
- They feel isolated
- They feel emotionally abandoned
- They can’t control their anger
- They feel like they don’t measure up to what is expected of them
- They feel frustrated because of unemployment or poverty
Are you at risk of raping someone, or have you ever raped someone? If you say yes to any of the questions below you can benefit from supportive counselling.
Dial the free helpline 0800 428 428 and find help immediately.
- I have had repeated thoughts about forcing someone to have sex.
- I have had sex with a drunk person.
- I have forced someone to have sex with me.
- I have ignored someone asking me to stop going through with a sexual act.
- I had an erection and had to have sex, no matter what.
- I know it’s wrong, but I can’t stop myself.
- I believe that when she said no, she meant yes.
- I was angry with a woman and forced her to have sex as punishment or revenge.
- She ate all my food, spent my money – she owed me sex, so I took what she owed me.
- She was a prostitute anyway.
- I had waited long enough for her to agree so I forced her.
- She was dressed like she wanted sex.
- I have made phone calls where I talk dirty to someone who didn’t want to participate.
If you have ever raped or abused women:
- You can be helped if you want to be helped.
- The shame of the rape dies if you accept the wrong you have done and the hurt you have caused.
- This gives you an opportunity to heal and stop raping.
If you have raped and taken full responsibility for your actions through the legal system, you can play an active role in addressing rape by making a difference, through sharing your journey and speaking out against rape, especially to other men.
Who is being raped?
- Women and girls are at the highest risk of being raped. Women are raped no matter how old they are, what they wear, where they live, or what they do.
- Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and transgender people are also at risk of rape as a hate crime because of their sexual orientation;
- Men can be raped. About 3.5% of men have been raped by a man;
- Male and female children are at high risk of rape. Forty percent of victims who report rape to the police are girls under 18 and 15% are under the age of 12. Over 20% of boys in one research study have experienced rape.
Why do we such a strong rape culture in South Africa?
- Our cultural practises, values, belief and history create an environment that enables our rape culture.
- We support the rape through how we think, speak and behave.
- The way we joke about women, treat them as sex objects and degrade women in media and on the streets contributes to our rape culture.
- The way we favour men who have many partners contributes to our rape culture.
- The way we see men as more powerful and more deserving in society contributes to our rape culture.
This culture does the following harm that perpetuates rape:
- It blames the victim and often stigmatises them.
- It makes excuses for the rapist.
- It normalises rape and makes us complicit, because we accept it.
Why do we need to change the rape culture in South Africa?
- To build a country in which all people are safe from violence.
- To replace fear with well-being.
- To give birth to a society in which we love and respect ourselves and each other and honour our common humanity.
- To heal ourselves, individual rape survivors and everyone who lives with.
Why do we have such high levels of rape in South Africa?
- South Africa is a very violent society – we have had a violent history, and many South Africans continue to use violence as a way to respond to challenges at home, in their relationships and in the community.
- Poverty is a problem in South Africa, which contributes to rape. Overcrowding in homes, unemployed men who often get involved in substance abuse, outside toilets, girls and young women getting involved with older men to have their material needs met, are some of the different ways that poverty feeds into high levels of rape.
- We live in a very unequal society in which many South Africans are made to feel abused and inferior as a result of our gender, race, sexual orientation, etc. Not feeling good about who we are as human beings often results in using violence as a way to take back the power we don’t have.
- High levels of unemployment make men, in particular, feel inadequate to provide for their families, which can make them feel angry and/or depressed.
- Excessive drinking and drug taking happens in many of our communities and homes, often as a response to the ongoing trauma people face every day.
- Problem drinking and use of drugs contribute towards the high levels of violence, and sexual violence.
- Domestic violence and abuse, teaches children to be violent.
- Rape is often not reported, and accepted, making it seem ‘ normal.’
Rape, Alcohol and Drugs
- South Africa has one of the highest per capita (per person) alcohol consumption levels per drinker in the world.
- In a recent study in Diepsloot, 38.5% of men interviewed were problem drinkers i.e. people who drank so much that it interfered with their daily lives.
- Many acts of violence including rape take places after the consumption of alcohol and drugs.
- Many victims of rape become vulnerable if they have consumed alcohol or drugs.
- Victims of rape may use alcohol to numb their trauma, and the alcohol itself contributes to more and more violence in their lives.
- Significant underage drinking contributes towards making the community more prone to violence and rape.
- In a study in the Northern Cape it was found that rape of minor children took place after excessive alcohol consumption
- Venues serving alcohol are spaces that make women particularly vulnerable to rape, given the consumption of alcohol by both potential perpetrators and victims, and the belief that men feel entitled to sex after buying a woman drinks.