Troubling news for many of our sisters in South Africa. In a new study by the South African government, 37% of the men admitted to rape.
The study, conducted by the government-backed Medical Research Foundation, found that in Gauteng province, which houses South Africa’s most populous city, Johannesburg, more than 37 percent of men surveyed admitted to raping a woman. Moreover, almost 7 percent of the 487 men interviewed, said they had participated in a gang rape.
The stats are astounding. Not only did the study find that nearly a third of men had committed at least one rape, more than half of the 511 women interviewed said they had been a victim of violence perpetrated by a man. And an even higher number of men, 78 percent of men, admitted to committing violence against women. In spite of the large numbers of rapes and violence, crimes against women typically go unreported (approximately 1 in 25 rapes is reported).
A similar study conducted in 2008 showed comparable results. 28 percent of men in Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Nata admitted to raping women or girls, and according to the study, nearly a third did not feel guilty about it.
Rachel Jewkes, a lead researcher on both studies, thinks that rape has become commonplace in South Africa because of the region’s troubled past. “Rape is completely trivialized by a great number of men. It is seen as a legitimate activity,” she told The Associated Press. “Apartheid has contributed to culture of impunity surrounding rape in South Africa.”
According to The Associated Press, “Two-thirds of the men surveyed in that study said they raped because of a sense of sexual entitlement. Other popular motivating factors included a desire to punish women who rejected or angered them, and raping out of boredom.”
These results, although alarming, are not limited to South Africa. Around the world, women are disproportionally subjected to violence and rape. In the United States, one out of six women will be sexually assaulted (18.8% of all Black women) during her lifetime. While the numbers are astounding, there is something we can do.
Many activists are calling on Congress to pass the International Violence Against Women Act. Introduced earlier this year, the International Violence Against Women Act aims to promote women’s economic growth, address violence against girls in schools, and “would make ending violence against women a diplomatic priority for the first time in U.S. history.”