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Gang rape: A youth cult in South African townships

By Adriana Stuijt     Jan 10, 2009 in Health
Gang rape -- jackrolling -- has become a youth-cult in South Africa. The thousands of armed youth gangs in the sprawling townships of Soweto have just one aim: to impregnate every woman under age 26.
Gang rape -- jackrolling -- has become a youth-cult in South Africa. The thousands of armed youth gangs in the sprawling township of Soweto near Johannesburg have just one aim: to impregnate every woman under age 26. They form hunting packs to find their victims each night.
380,000 women raped in South Africa each year
One of the main reasons why HIV-AIDS is at such a high level in South Africa, with some 6-million people now infected with the human-immune-deficiency virus which leads to deadly AIDS, is rape.
One in every four South African females of all races and ages, even the smallest babies, will experience rape at least once; 380,000 cases of rapes are REPORTED annually in South Africa. The reported rape cases in South Africa are the highest in the world.
Rape as a male initiation ritual
Rape is also a form of initiation among the men: new inmates in male prisons are inevitably raped upon arrival by all members of any given cell although most lead heterosexual lifestyles outside of prison. The sexual abuse of children is also common in townships.
And all these horrors occur without any kind of lubrication and of course without condoms - and the friction causes mucosal tearing and bleeding, said Dr. S. Armstrong, a leading South African researcher.
He warns in a recent medical report published by the National Institutes of Health in the USA, that 'such conditions of unprotected, unlubricated sex (rape) with multiple partners are one important reason why HIV is so rapidly transmitted in South Africa.'
Women in SA not allowed to use condoms, contraceptives:
And researchers K. Wood and R. Jewkes also reported in their studies carried out among pregnant adolescents in Cape Town, that there is 'widespread male coercion and violence within these sexual relationships. The pregnant teens reported 'assault as a regular feature of their relationships.'
"In South Africa, power relations between men and women are commonly manifested as and imposed through sexual violence and assault. Men use physical assault to force sexual contact, beating their female partners if they refuse to have sex, or if they are found to be using contraceptives.'
Women often experience abuse such as gang rape - yet health officials in SA 'refuse to acknowledge sexual encounters such as these as rape'.
Powerless to protect against HIV-infection:
Researcher L. de K Ackermann from the department of sociology at the University of the Free State also writes: “it is evident that social factors such as the high rate of rape... and their inability to insist on condom usage, make South African women unable to negotiate the timing of sex and its conditions.They are powerless to protect themselves against HIV-infection.'
Ackermann also slammed the current HIV-prevention campaigns, which don't take into account the fact that females, from a very early age onward, have no control whatsoever over their own sexual lives, warning:
"The rampant spread of this disease can only be stemmed if the subordinate sexual position of woman is acknowledged and addressed,' Ackermann warned.
“The degree to which women are able to control various aspects of their sexual lives is clearly a critical question for health promotion and the prevention of AIDS.
“It is evident that social factors such as the high rate of rape, the unfavourable economic position of women, and the inability to insist on condom usage make South African women unable to negotiate the timing of sex and the conditions under which it occurs.
“They are…powerless to protect themselves against HIV infection. Prevention campaigns often do not take into account the reality of their daily lives and the difficulties they have to gain control over their own sexual lives. The rampant spread of this disease can only be stemmed if the subordinate position of women is acknowledged and addressed.”
"It is these (male-dominated) power relations which determine women's ability or inability to protect themselves against sexually transmitted disease, pregnancy, and unwelcome sexual acts.'
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