South Africa: Rape and partner violence among youths

South Africa is said to be the worlds rape capital according to a report published in 2012 by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) think-tank. That report only looked at female victims of rape. Searching Google News one quickly sees that sexual violence and rape in South Africa is prevalent and has been for quite some time. One also note that women and girls are the most common victims mentioned – although rape against young male children are also mentioned. Perpetrators are always male. So the impression one is left with is: Women and girls (but also some boys) are raped by male perpetrators in disturbingly high numbers.

I have previously written a post which mentions a paper (13,915 reasons for equity in sexual offences legislation: A national school-based survey in South Africa) looking solely at male youth victimization using data from a 2002 South African survey among pupils with a extremely large sample size of 269,705 total where 126,696 were male respondents. The age of respondents ranged from 10-20 year old. The survey used the term “forced sex without consent” in a gender neutral way (apparently the word rape doesn’t exist in some of the languages this survey was administered in).

To sum up the important findings:

Some 9% (weighted value based on 13915/127097) of male respondents aged 11–19 years reported forced sex in the last year.
Of those aged 18 years at the time of the survey,
44% (weighted value of 5385/11450) said they had been forced to have sex in their lives and 50% reported consensual sex.

Some 32% said the perpetrator was male,
41% said she was female and
27% said they had been forced to have sex by both male and female perpetrators.

In the references of that paper I found the paper which looks at the results from the complete survey, that is for both male and female respondents:

National cross sectional study of views on sexual violence and risk of HIV infection and AIDS among South African school pupils

Some of the findings:

Around 11% of males and 4% of females claimed to have forced someone else to have sex; 66% of these males and 71% of these females had themselves been forced to have sex.

8.6% (weighted value based on 27 118/269 705) of respondents said they had been forced to have sex in the past year. Younger males were more likely to report this than younger females. In the older age group, more females than males reported having been forced to have sex in the past year.

That is not an insignificant number of female perpetrators; almost 30% of respondents who admitted to have forced someone else to have sex in the past year were female.

Looking for more recent data than 2002 I found The 2nd South African National Youth Risk Behaviour Survey 2008 – a national survey by the South African Medical Research Council. The sample size is smaller, but still pretty large at 10,270 respondents. The respondents were pupils in grades 8, 9 ,10 and 11 making the majority of the sample (83.8%) between the ages of 14 and 18 years inclusive, with 4.3% of learners aged below this range and 11.9% above (page 26).

At this time the rape laws in South Africa are more gender neutral (was changed in 2007) and this report defines “sex” as penis in vagina or penis in anus. Hence the report excludes oral sex in all forms.

Some key findings related to victimization and perpetration of “forced to sex”:

  • 11.9% of boys reported having been forced to sex
  • 8.2% of girls report having been forced to sex

(graph 20 page 162)

  • 11.5% of boys report having forced someone else to have sex
  • 6.6% of girls report having forced someone else to have sex

(graph 21 page 163)

It also looked at partner violence:

  • 16.5% of boys reported having been assaulted by boyfriend/girlfriend in the last 6 months
  • 13.8% of girls reported having been assaulted by boyfriend/girlfriend in the last 6 months

(Graph 18 page 162)

  • 15,3% of boys reported having assaulted their boyfriend/girlfriend in the last 6 months
  • 11.7% of girls reported having assaulted their boyfriend/girlfriend in the last 6 months

(Graph 19 page 162)

I have seen that there has been some occasional visitors from South Africa to this blog. I’d be very much interested in comments or feedback on to what extent male victmization and female perpetration is considered/taken seriously in the context of the discourse on rape and sexual violence in South Africa.

4 thoughts on “South Africa: Rape and partner violence among youths

  1. Hi There and thank you for all this info. Its really great to be able to read the summary that you have posted here as I don’t enjoy reading all the babble in reports.
    Female on male perpetration, doesn’t even garner a second glance here in South Africa and we have, in all the time that I have been involved in this field, had only one case that has gone to court, this was in Bloemfontein this year where a mother was prosecuted for having sex with her son.
    There are studies, although un-scientific, that show that the incidence of teachers (female) having sex with boys under the age of 14 are incredibly high.
    It is imperative that we have studies into this as soon as possible, but most of the institutions that I approach are not interested in doing this.
    It has been said by social workers in certain areas in South Africa that the incidence of sexual violence on boys is almost as high as it is on girls. If this is true, and these are the people that are on the coal face, then we are in serious serious trouble.
    We all know that hurt boys grow up to be hurt adults, and hurt adults hurt people. (I am NOT endorsing the Myth that we all grow up to be pedophiles) I am merely saying that we often grow up angry and in turmoil, and hurt our families and loved ones.
    Again thank you for your Blog, Wish I knew who was behind it, but thank you. Its refreshing to have people that are raising awareness around the area of Male Sexual Abuse.
    Martin Pelders
    Facilitator @ MatrixMen

  2. Hi Martin and thank you for your comment.

    I suspected that female perpetration weren’t getting any attention in South Africa as well, but since I am located in Norway and the news about rape in South Africa reaching me is only a subset I wasn’t sure. Considering the high prevalency numbers for sexual abuse against boys by women/girls I found in particularily one of the cited studies I had hoped it would at least have some attention.

    You write that it has been said by social workers in certain areas that the incidence of sexual violence on boys is almost as high as it is on girls. Both the surveys I have quoted here found a higher rate of forced sex against boys than against girls so the social workers you refer to are right.

    You also wrote:

    We all know that hurt boys grow up to be hurt adults, and hurt adults hurt people. (I am NOT endorsing the Myth that we all grow up to be pedophiles) I am merely saying that we often grow up angry and in turmoil, and hurt our families and loved ones.

    Yes, there is some truth in that and it appears that it has an effect even before adulthood and also for female victims according to the second paper I cited in the post:

    No less than 65.8% (9159/13911) of males and 71.2% (4428/6216) of females who admitted to forcing someone else to have sex had themselves been forced to have sex.

    The caveat you mention about the myth of the so-called “Vampire syndrome” is also true and must be stressed as you did. In particular when talking to survivors, which I am sure you are well aware of.

    Again thank you for your Blog, Wish I knew who was behind it, but thank you.

    Apart from being a man in my early forties living in Norway this post about why I started this blog is about as much as I am comfortable with revealing online at the moment. I hope this doesn’t detract too much of it’s content for you.

    Best of luck with the work you do with MatrixMen.

  3. I note that in the second study, even if males report more acting violence than females, they do it in both domestic and sexual violence. Seen that in domestic violence is impossible that a male victim has a male perpetrator (because gay people are a little percentage and I don’t even know how much are represented in this research), is it possible to explain it as a bias, also seen that every gender report similar rates of both victimized and perpetrated violence? If numbers of perpetrated and victimized are similar inside the same gender in both genders why can’t also the numbers be similar between the genders?

Leave a Reply (first comment by first time commenters are auto-moderated - this might change when I get the hang of this and if the spam issue doesn't overwhelm me)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s