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About Rape

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

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.

However, culture can change. Now is the time to take a stand against violence. It should not be accepted as a a way to sort out conflict or take power. Quite simply, it should not be part of our culture. One of the best ways to reject violence is to reject misogyny, the lowering of women’s cultural status. If everyone, including women themselves, thought of women as equal, and treated them accordingly, South Africa’s culture of violence would be very much diminished.


Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Liesl</a>
    April 17th, 2008 @13:24 #

    Another thought-provoking article.

    I haven't previously thought this way about the 'cultural' dimension of violence.

    Thanks for the challenge to rethink our tolerance for rape.


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