25% of S. African Men Admit To Rape

According to the headline on this article. Apparently the study used a palm pilot device to guarantee anonymity and encourage honesty. I don’t know how different this method is from those used for similar studies elsewhere, but it would be good to know. (By the way, in the body of the article it looks like the rate is 28% for raping women and girls and 3% for raping men and boys. Which gives a rate of 31% unless my brain is more fried than I thought. I wonder if the headline-writer did some wacky subtraction?)

15 thoughts on “25% of S. African Men Admit To Rape

  1. There’s no way to view such a study result as anything but awful. I mean, if those figures are spot on accurate, what an appaling state of affairs. If, on the other hand, they are artificially high because of some kind of misplaced male bravado, then having a state affairs where one might lie about raping for the kudos is just as horrid. The pessimist in me suspects that, even with the promise of anonymity, many would be still reluctant to admit rape and so the number might be even higher.

    Aside from your worry about the subtle dropping of the male rape figures, I also think the “Problems in Africa” overtone of the article is problematic too. I know that’s where the study was carried out, but the implicit suggestion is that this is a South African phenomenon. But of course, I’d be no more shocked if this was European/North American study. I mean, the article quotes a worryingly low conviction rate for rape of 7% in South Africa. Troubling indeed. But then, according to the Fawcett Society, England and Wales conviction rates are only about 6%.

    I’m quite depressed now.

  2. Telbort, that’s a good point about the “trouble in Africa” tone, which I should have said something about. The article never explicitly says “how lovely that we don’t have these problems”, and one could make a case that it’s perfectly reasonable to only discuss S. Africa when discussing a S. African study, but I agree that the impression left is a problematic one.

  3. Just on the math: my guess is that a large proportion of the 3% are also included in the 28%, such that the total is around 28%, which was rounded down to “one quarter” for the headline.

  4. Obviously a horrible finding, but due diligence is needed: has anyone read the report? I couldn’t find it. I’d love to see the Method section. I wonder first whether the sample is really representative of the larger population, and second, whether the Palm reply method could actually artificially inflate responses (perhaps by allowing men to engage in a bit of bravado fantasizing or goofing off, if they are allowed to socialize while replying?).

    By the way, the headline’s ‘one in four’ claim is probably just a result of rounding. Can’t have more or less than a whole person. Plus, we don’t know what percent of the 3% of men who raped other men had also raped women, so the percentages aren’t additive. In support of this, note that 1/10 men claimed to have been raped BY a man. If that figure is accurate, then the 3% figure is either too low, else those 3% of respondents are responsible for a lot of violence (an understatement regardless).

    All of this is grotesque, though, and I’m glad the issue is being investigated.

  5. i’m going to guess that whoever wrote the headline– like those of us reading it– wasn’t bad at math *and* didn’t approve of rape. so, wanting the number to be lower, he or she did the math to move the numbers from reality and further towards a desired reality.

    i’d say it’s a perfect example of wishful thinking. . .

  6. This isn’t surprising seeing as how companies have been marketing both rape insurance and HIV insurance for sometime now. What a wonderful place to hold the 2010 World Cup.

  7. What doesn’t help is the widespread belief in South Africa that the more friction (for the guy) the more fun. This “dry sex practice” not also leads women apply all kinds of things to their vagina to keep it as dry as possible (see here for an abstract), but of course, the best thing to make sure the woman is dry is to penetrate here when she’s not prepared and not willing.

  8. Well, if such an appalling general practice were to get outdated in less then a decade, I would be very impressed and very much interested in how they accomplished that.
    I only came across the concept because of the Zuma trial a couple of years ago when some attention was paid to it in the media. It’s not very enlightening to delve into, I am afraid.

  9. I’ve read in another report that the reason why most African men infected with AIDS resort to raping females — even younger relatives, preferably virgin ones — is because of the false religious and cultural belief that only a virgin female no matter how young can cure them of AIDS. That CNN report cited a man raping his 1 or 2-year old niece (?) for that cause.

  10. BIO: you have an interesting site.

    A friend of mine who worked on trying to stop the destruction caused by AIDS in Africa felt very strongly that underlying the catastrophe were attitudes about sexuality. What you’re reporting would seem to be an instance of just that. 1 or 2 year olds are there to be used as a cure!

  11. Thanks, H. It is good to hear from someone who has changed, and who is trying to change others.

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