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Rising brutality of rape cases alarming

Cape Town - Rapes are becoming increasingly brutal, often ending in mutilation and murder, but academics are at a loss to explain it.

Amanda Gouws, a professor in political science at Stellenbosch University and a gender issues expert, said the increasing brutality of rape cases was worrying.

Mourners gather for the funeral of Anene Booysen in Bredasdorp. Her father, Klaasie Speelman, and foster mother Corlia Olivier support each other. Picture: Jeffrey Abrahams. Credit: INLSA

She was in Bredasdorp on Sunday for the protest march following the rape, mutilation and murder of 17-year-old Anene Booysen.

“What is really worrying is the brutality of rape. It is not just rape, it is the maiming. And it’s not just young women. It is the gogos, babies and lesbians. Any woman is fair game.”

She suggested a reason could be that men felt emasculated because they could not fulfil the traditional role of breadwinner due to extreme poverty.

“Men are very angry about the empowerment of women. They’re angry that their jobs are being taken by women.”

She said there was also the suggestion that young men did not have role models as they had been raised by single-parent families, headed by women.

She referred to SA Police Service statistics which indicated that more than 64 500 cases of sexual assault had been reported to police in 2011/12 - and that was just a fraction of the cases.

Rachel Jewkes, director of the Medical Research Council Gender and Health Research Unit, said violent rape could suggest substance abuse.

She said drugs or alcohol wouldn’t make a man rape a woman but might make him more violent.

There was also the possibility they had been abused themselves during childhood.

“It is appalling. They think that what they’re doing is all right,” she said.

Jewkes said rape statistics showed it was “terribly common” among men to have raped, which showed it was seen as being acceptable.

“This… is what we need to challenge. We do need to address childhood socialisation.”

Kathleen Dey, director of NGO Rape Crisis, said violence against women was on the increase. But, she said, NGOs were closing down due to a lack of funding.

“The need in communities is growing greater and greater. There is just this feeling that the level of violence is increasing. It talks to the underlying feeling of desperation that communities are feeling.”

Dey said Anene’s case had struck a chord with South Africans because of the level of violence which had been inflicted.

“It is just such a bad case. It is a shocking thing to imagine.”

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