What is rape?
Rape is the intentional unlawful sexual penetration of a victim without their consent.
A woman is raped every 36 seconds in South Africa. That equals the rape of 100 women/hour or 2400 women per day. Thus, South Africa is known as the “rape capital of the world”.
Rape cause trauma in victims that can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder. Serious injuries can result along with the risk of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. In addition, a person may face violence or threats from the rapist and, in some cultures, from the victim’s family and relatives.
Lack of consent is key to the definition of rape.
Different actions considered to be rape:
- Someone inserts their genital organs into the mouth, anus or genital organs of a victim
- Any part of someone’s body, such as a finger, goes into the anus or genital organs of the victim
- Any object, like a stick or a bottle, is put into the anus or genital organs of the victim
- The genital organs of an animal put into the mouth of the victim
- Any sexual intercourse without consent is unlawful.
- Both men and women can be victims and perpetrators of rape.
- The age of consent to have lawful sex for men and women in South Africa is 16 years.
- Sex acts become crimes when performed without the permission (consent) of a person.
- People may not use their marriage as an excuse to rape their partners.
Which various forms of rape are there?
“Date rape” involves rape by an acquaintance who refuses to stop when told. In addition, date rape often involves ”date rape drugs”, which the perpetrator unknowingly gives to the victim.
Compelled rape occurs when one person coerces another to penetrate someone else against their will sexually. An example of forced rape would be when a gang breaks into a couple’s home and threatens them to have sex while the gang members watch.
Corrective rape is a hate crime – an attempt to cure an LGBT from being gay by raping them. The occurrence of corrective rape is about equal among LGBT men and women. A young man, for example, was raped by his mother in an attempt to ‘cure’ him from homosexuality. In almost all cases, the culprits are family members themselves, which is why the victims mostly refrain from any legal recourse. It is very traumatising for them to speak about their brothers or cousins turning rapists.
Rape happens to men as well. Male rape is a form of rape in which a male is a victim. This male sexual victimisation includes both rape or sexual violence in general. Very often, men don’t report rape. If they do, it might bring the victims sexual identity into question. No one believes them, and frequently they are asked: ‘how could you let this happen to you?” Heterosexual males commit most males to male rapes.
Male rape shares something with female rape: it is not about sex, but about power and degradation, about violence in which sex is the weapon. Psychologists identify several causes: a desire for conquest and control, revenge and retaliation, and ‘conflict and counteraction’, in which a rapist may punish his victim as a way of dealing with confusion about his sexuality.
The age of consent to have sex in South Africa is 16. An adult male having sexual intercourse with a female under 16 is guilty of statutory rape’ – even if the female has consented. A male 14 years of age or older who has sexual intercourse with a female without her consent is guilty of rape. The South African law prohibits the act of sexual penetration or sexual violation with a child.
A child is defined as a person 12 years or older but under the age of 16 years. The law presumes conclusively that a child under the age of 12 is incapable of consenting to sex. Therefore, a sexual act with a child under that age constitutes rape or sexual assault. However, a boy under 14 years of age is no longer presumed to be incapable of rape.
Gang rape occurs when a group of people participate in the rape of a single victim. In South Africa, gang rape is also known in the townships as ‘Jack rolling’. Although it is a situation “in which no brutality, no threat even, would be necessary to subdue the victim”, sadistic violence occurs on a large scale.
Jack rolling has a few unique features, namely:
- Relatively young people commit rape.
- It is always executed in the open, and the rapists make no effort to conceal their identities.
- It seems it is a way the rapists are trying to earn respect from the community.
- Rapes are committed by youth who are part of roving armed gangs.
- Rapes are usually perpetrated in shebeens, open areas or picnic spots.
- Gangs see Jack Rolling as a sport for hardened gangsters, not as a crime.
Rape Myths & Facts
Myth: Rape and sexual assault are about sexual attraction and gratification.
Fact: Rape and sexual assault are all about control and domination.
Myth: A healthy person can resist being raped or sexually assaulted.
Fact: Healthy and strong people are raped every day. Rape victims are doctors, lawyers, nurses, military personnel, cooks, accountants, students—anyone and everyone could be vulnerable to rape or sexual assault.
Myth: When it comes to sex, men can be provoked to “a point of no return.”
Fact: Men are physically able to stop at any point during sexual activity. Rape is not an act of impulsive, uncontrollable passion; it is a deliberate act of violence. Research shows that 50% of rapes are planned.
Myth: If a woman goes to her date’s room on the first date, it implies she is willing to have sex.
Fact: Nothing is ever implied. Date rapes comprise 50 to 75% of all reported rapes. The best way to prevent a bad situation is to communicate. If things get hot and heavy and you’re not sure what the other person wants, ask. Some people feel talking may ruin “the mood.” But doing something without consent is rape—and that’s a natural mood killer!
Myth: Rape is usually violent and involves a stranger.
Around 73% of all rapes and 90% of rapes on college campuses are committed by someone the victim knows. Many rapes involve force or the threat of force. Some rapes are executed when the victim is under the influence of drugs or alcohol or even asleep! Sex against someone’s will is rape under any circumstances.
Myth: A woman who dresses provocatively is asking for trouble.
Fact: Rapists look for easy, vulnerable targets. Thoughts that women provoke attacks against them by dressing transfers to blame from the perpetrator to the victim. Research shows that this particular myth helps others feel better because they think rape couldn’t happen to them.
Myth: It’s not raping when a woman changes her mind in the middle of sexual activity.
Fact: A woman can change her mind at any time. Say you want to stop, say no or say you’ve changed your mind. A respectful partner does not want to do something that you don’t want to do.
Myth: Only attractive women are raped.
Fact: Anyone can be raped. Children, the elderly and people with physical and mental disabilities are easy targets of rape because of their vulnerability. Men, gay and straight alike, can and do get raped. Rape is not about passion or uncontrollable lust. It’s about control over another person, and it’s an opportunistic act of violence. Heterosexual men are responsible for the majority of all rapes.
Myth: Anyone who is drunk or high and being a flirt gets what they deserve.
Fact: Being drunk or high is risky behaviour that could have many dangerous consequences. Rape is just one of them. People who are “loaded” are also less likely to use protection and more likely to have sex or be coerced into having sex with someone they don’t know. The bottom line: regardless of a person’s behaviour, no one deserves to be raped. Furthermore, people who commit crimes while “under the influence” are still responsible for their actions.
Myth: Women fantasise about being raped.
Fact: Some women have sexual fantasies about having aggressive sex with a stranger or being “forced” into performing certain sexual acts, but they can stop the imagination when it becomes too frightening. During an actual rape, the victim is powerless to stop anything.
Myth: If a person doesn’t fight back, they weren’t raped.
Fact: Rape can be life-threatening, mainly when a rapist uses a weapon or force to accomplish penetration. Submission is not the same as cooperation. Whatever a person does to survive is the appropriate action.
Myth: There are a lot of false rape reports.
Fact: The false report rate for rape is similar to other false felony reports. The FBI estimates that about 2% of reported rapes are false.
Myth: Most people report rape or sexual assault to the police.
Fact: The truth is that rape and sexual assault are two of the most under-reported crimes in our society. Estimates show that between 50–90% of rapes go unreported. Factoring unreported rapes together with the odds of an arrest being made and the chances of getting a felony conviction, only 6% of rapists will ever spend a day in jail. In other words: 15 of 16 rapists walk free.
During the assault, a person will generally act in one or more of five ways: fight, flight, freeze, friend, or flop.
The way a person reacts is often not what they would have predicted, and after the rape is over, a rape survivor may be uncomfortable with and not understand how they reacted while it was occurring.
Most people respond passively to the assault, which can confuse people (including the survivor) who assume that someone being raped would call for help or struggle, resulting in their clothes being torn or injuries resulting from the survivor being subdued after resisting.
People being raped often dissociate to some extent during the assault. The memory of the experience will usually be fragmented, especially immediately afterwards; memory generally consolidates with time, especially following REM sleep.
A man or boy may get an erection and ejaculate during a rape, becoming a source of shame and confusion for him and the people around him afterwards.
Immediately following a rape, the survivor may react outwardly in various ways, from expressive to close down. Common emotions include distress, anxiety, shame, disgust, helplessness, and guilt. Denial is not uncommon.
In the weeks following the rape, the survivor may develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome and may present a wide array of psychosomatic complaints,
PTSD symptoms include re-experiencing the rape, avoiding things associated with the rape, numbness, and increased anxiety and startle response. The likelihood of sustained severe symptoms is higher if the rapist confined or restrained the victim, where the victim believed the rapist would kill them. Also, when the victim was very young or very old, and if the rapist was someone they knew. The likelihood of sustained severe symptoms is also higher if people around the survivor ignore (or are ignorant of) the rape or blame the rape survivor.
Most people recover from rape in three to four months, but many have persistent PTSD that may manifest in anxiety, depression, substance abuse, irritability, anger, flashbacks, or nightmares. Also, rape survivors may have a long-term generalised anxiety disorder, develop one or more specific phobias, major depressive disorder, and may experience difficulties resuming their social life and sexual functioning. In addition, rape victims have a higher risk of suicide.
Men experience similar psychological effects of being raped, but they are less likely to seek counselling