Johannesburg - Rape is not about sex. It is an opportunistic crime during which a child finds themselves at the wrong place at the wrong time.
“It’s about power, anger and revenge,” said Dr Amelia Kleijn, a social worker who has researched men who rape babies and young children.
Kleijn’s findings revealed that these men had harsh childhoods, were mistreated as children and their basic needs for physical sustenance, protection, emotional security and social interaction were not met.
The men with whom she conducted interviews were serving sentences for raping children younger than three years old.
From her findings, she found that the men did it as a completely compulsive act - unlike paedophiles, who groom their victims.
“A three-year-old is not sexually alluring, in the same way that a 94-year-old isn’t,” Kleijn said.
The men didn’t do it for gratification, but rather for the humiliation of the victim - who they saw as an object, not a human being.
During her research, she found that the men had all come from a background of corporal punishment, lack of education for different reasons and had issues with their fathers.
“When committing the acts, they were all trying to regain control, and none of them showed remorse or empathy,” Kleijn said.
The men had also recalled feelings of intense anger and rage just before the act.
One of the men raped a child because his cattle had been stolen while another raped because someone had insulted his mother.
One man had even said he had raped the child to hurt the parent.
Kleijn said the lack of empathy was usually a symptom of a psychopath.
But in these situations, the men were diagnosed with either an antisocial personality disorder or, if they were under 18, they had conduct disorder.
Kleijn said it was important to note that many other men come from similar backgrounds, but don’t rape.
“This is because they found people in their lives who listened and helped them to rise above the problems. We need to see that in this country,” she said.
Kleijn is one of the experts who will be presenting their work at the Institute for Security Studies conference on Wednesday and Thursday about crime, violence and criminal justice.
* August 3, Western Cape: A four-month-old girl and a seven-year-old boy are raped by a man in Ceres. The baby is sleeping in bed with her parents when she and the boy are taken outside and raped. The baby has now undergone reconstructive surgery. The police have arrested a man believed to have been a friend of the toddler’s father.
* August 5, North West: A 37-year-old man allegedly rapes a three-year-old girl after taking her to a shack nearby. Later, residents apprehend him and assault him until police arrive on the scene. He is a neighbour of the girl’s family.
* January 8, North West: A 43-year-old man allegedly rapes his 10-month-old niece after the mother’s baby leaves for work. The family alleges the man has a history of rape, but the crime has never been reported.