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About Rape

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

How does alcohol work as a date-rape drug?

The side effects of drinking too much alcohol are garbled communication, confusion, disorientation, memory loss and blackouts. If you have been drinking excessively, you may be unable to refuse sex. In some cases, perhaps on a date, at a party or club, or at home, the rapist will encourage you to drink as a prelude to raping you. He will rely on alcohol to break down your defences, as well as his inhibitions. Alcohol can also enable violent behaviour, and if the rapist has been drinking he may resort to violence to get what he wants.

Will drinking alcohol increase my chances of being raped?
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What are date-rape drugs?

Any drug used by the rapist to facilitate your rape is called a date-rape drug. These include GHB or ‘Liquid Extacy’ (gamma hydroxybutyric acid) in liquid, white powder or tablet form, Ketamine (ketamine hydrochloride), a white powder, and Rohypnol or ‘Roofies’, (benzodiazepine).

Rohypnol, a potent sedative used to treat insomnia, is a schedule-6 drug which can only be prescribed by a doctor, and only for one month at a time. Because of its reputation as a date-rape drug, the new tablet on the market is a khaki-green colour which will show up blue when dissolved in a liquid. The old tablets however – odourless, tasteless and colourless when dissolved – are still available.

Alcohol, which intensifies the effects of Rohypnol, is also considered a date-rape drug.
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Can rape happen within marriage?

If your husband forces you to have sex with him, it is rape. Your husband may wrongly believe that you, his wife, are his “property”. Your husband may be in strict control of finances and major decision-making and believe that as head of the house he is entitled to have sex, even if it is forced.

A sexual relationship is part of a marriage or any caring, loving partnership, but must be negotiated to be pleasing, gratifying and fulfilling to you both. A marriage or any other relationship, previous or existing, according to South African law, is not a defence to the charge of rape.

These are the words of rape survivor Charlene Smith, which first appeared in an article she wrote for the Mail & Guardian in November 1999, shortly before the trial started of the man who raped her:
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What is statutory rape?

Statutory rape is sex below the age of consent. If a man has sex with you and you are younger than sixteen years old, which is the age of consent, he can be charged with statutory rape, regardless of whether you agreed to have sex with him or not. He can automatically be prosecuted whether you wish to lay a charge or not. Charges will sometimes be laid against the offender by a concerned adult who is worried that you may have been coerced or manipulated into having sex, or who knows that you’ve been raped and are not able or willing to press charges yourself.

What is acquaintance rape?
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Why is Rape so Terrifying?

The fear that some deranged stranger, a criminal high on tik or booze, or even someone I know, could hurt me or my children – my daughters or my small son – in such an intimate way, that someone can choose to rob any child of her virginity, her dignity, her health and her life, is terrifying. As we research and build up answers to some of the questions we’re presenting on this blog, we’ll look at ways we can prevent rape – it won’t all be doom and gloom. But before we can tackle that range of questions we have to face the problem, the act, the aftermath, head on.

Not only is rape perpetrated by damaged criminals, but by our own educated sons, who may rape if they are brought up to “expect” sex, if they believe they can demand or “take” sex as their masculine right. We have to face the truth, that rape is terrifying – a psychological murder in a sense – and then mobilise ourselves as mothers, fathers, teachers, as neighbours, as a community, to take a stand against the accepted “culture of violence”. We have to face the fact that we may contribute in some way by ignoring fighting, bullying, the playing of violent games, or condoning the way we treat our daughters differently from our sons. A rapist could be the guy next door – why does he feel so inadequate, or even disempowered?
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Where will I be raped?

If you are raped it will more than likely happen at home, which is where more than half of all reported rapes take place. But rape can happen anywhere, of course. You can be raped inside or outside – in a residential street or open field, or in your car, a public toilet, in prison, in a classroom, in a place of worship, a park, a playground, at a neighbour’s house.

Generally, there are likely to be a higher number of rapes in areas where people feel less powerful, and are less protected. If you live in a township or an informal settlement or village where lighting and public transport is poor, if criminal gangs operate in your nearby, if there is no adequate police presence, if you do not have private security or a neighbourhood watch, you will be more vulnerable.
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Is rape part of the SA “culture of violence”?

When people talk about culture, it brings to mind music, dance, dress, the customs and stories of a nation. But culture includes beliefs, values, norms and attitudes towards parenting, gender roles and almost anything you can think of. The political, economic, social and spiritual threads of a nation all weave together to influence our everyday behaviour and the way we live – in fact “culture” colours our total existence.

Violence is part of South African culture. The political violence of the past brutalised many people, and led to the destruction of families and communities. The phrase “a culture of violence”, often used to explain why violence has remained so pervasive after the end of apartheid, can’t be divorced from this, but generally refers to criminal acts, like murder and rape, involving two or more individuals. Too much exposure to violence – through personal experience and that of our friends and family members, on our streets and TV sets, in our newspapers – has caused us to see violence as “normal”. Too many of us accept assault, murder and rape as part of life. The answer, it seems unavoidable to conclude, is yes.
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Is rape on the increase in South Africa?

Seemingly so over the long term, although the statistics aren’t as clear as they might be because of the many problems that attend the reporting of rape.

During the 1980’s, an average of 16 000 rapes were reported every year. By 2006, the official figure for rape was over 55 000 reported cases. During the 2006 – 2007 period, statistics show a decline of five percent in rapes. This number may, however, mean that fewer cases are being reported as people lose confidence in the abilities of the police to bring a rapist to book.

In some cases rape victims have been turned away by police when they’ve tried to report the rape. Based on a premise put forward by the National Institute of Crime Rehabilitation, only one in twenty rapes is reported. They claim that the actual number of rapes committed is closer to 490 000 rapes a year, and that 13 000 women can be expected to be raped in South Africa every day.

What is male rape?

Men and boys who are sexually violated, by anal or oral penetration, are victims of male rape. Attacks, mostly perpetrated by heterosexual men, often involve high levels of violence. You – a man or boy – may be beaten and will most likely be threatened with a weapon such as a knife or a gun.

Most male rapes, as with rape of women and girls, are perpetrated by someone you know – a father, a brother, a neighbour, a friend, a teacher. The rape can happen at your home, at school, in a public toilet, at any time of day or night, regardless of how tall or strong you are, what you look like or what you do, your age, your race or your sexual orientation.
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Is rape an act of sexual desire?

Most experts agree that rape is an act of aggression and hostility, not of sexual desire. Forcing you to have sex – whether your vagina or anus is penetrated with a penis, or whether a foreign object is used in the act – has nothing to do with sexual passion and pleasure. Rape is a crime of violence in which sex is used as a weapon to dominate and gain power over you.

A less orthodox view holds that sexual desire plays some role in the act of rape, as a kind “fuel” that drives the violent, personal expression of power, but which is secondary to the main object of domination and control.