Explainer: behind the scourge of child rape in South Africa

Although explanations by paedophiles in South Africa about their actions are well-documented, our research has found that the reasons behind child sexual abuse are much more complicated and dominated partly by a replete contradiction with denials of dance.

The UK newspapers reported that a UK-based paedophile ring, with tentacles around the “world”, had created a video-streaming involving sexual abuse of pre-schoolers, toddlers, and babies. The man, who cannot be named until he pleads guilty, is alleged to have been watching a kind of baby porn created by the UK porn ring.

In June, a UK newspaper reported that a six-month-old child had been sexually abused. The recent reports in the UK suggest a rise in cases of sexual abuse against children, following a series of incidents involving a ring.

In 2001, a myth emerged that having sex with a baby cured HIV/AIDS, when a nine-month-old baby was raped in South Africa. It is important to note that the incidence of raping babies is not a new phenomenon.

The prevalence of infant sexual assault gave rise to various speculations and myths, such as the notion of the “virgin myth.” Poverty and patriarchy were used as justifications for this.

Up until now, insufficient research has been conducted to clarify or examine the numerous theories that are prevalent.

Our research investigated one aspect of the issue: how offenders comprehend sexual activities involving underage individuals in South Africa.

Typical patterns among individuals with a sexual interest in children

The study examined explanations for the sexual abuse of young children in South Africa and found common themes among perpetrators.

Interviews were conducted with 27 sex offenders incarcerated in eight prisons across South Africa. All of them have been convicted for sexually abusing children, who are either younger than six or between the ages of 16 and 86.

In the study, the perpetrators did not use the myth of the virgin cleansing as an explanation for the sexual abuse of young children. Instead, the common denominator in the narrative included factors such as socio-cultural adversities and childhood adversities, as well as patriarchal notions of manhood and beliefs about sexual entitlement.

Our earlier study confirmed that an important factor in many rape cases is the demand for instant gratification. The study also chronicled an incident where a father raped his daughter, revealing a belief in sexual entitlement. This incident was further confirmed by our research, which found that the father took advantage of the absence of his wife at home.

Women, utilizing the power of false accusations, have managed to secure rape convictions. In a recent case, 13 offenders were interviewed and 27 were found guilty. However, women’s rights activists argue that women still feel disempowered by the limitations of their rights. They express frustration about directly addressing the issues raised by men, which has been ongoing for five years.

The abuse was driven by the desire for sexual pleasure, despite some claims. The results indicate that the majority of offenders were primarily driven by the desire to gain power in order to exploit sexually young and vulnerable children.

The individuals responsible for the mistreatment frequently portrayed the victims as helpless targets, attributing their own vulnerability and gender as the cause for the abuse, claiming that the victims were enticing and even treating children as young as two as if they were grown adults.

This contributed to his struggles in maintaining and establishing intimate relationships with peers. He never had the opportunity to learn about manhood, as his father was absent and he experienced abject poverty, neglect, and physical and sexual abuse during his childhood as a result of being one of the offenders.

He was 19-years-old at the time and ended up sexually abusing a six-year-old girl in his neighbourhood, currently serving a 20-year sentence. He developed violent arousals, which he also said were difficult to control, but felt more at ease with young children.

The condition of sexual assault in South Africa

From 2005 to 2014, despite the changes in the way rape data was documented, the crime statistics published in 2014 indicate a decrease in the number of reported incidents to 46,253. This figure is four times higher than the reported cases of rape in the United States. In South Africa, which is believed to have the highest number of rape cases globally, there were 54,926 reported incidents of rape involving women and girls between 2005 and 2006.

Even in the event that they do, young kids might not even be aware of whom to approach or whether they will be trusted. Not just are females less inclined to disclose their sexual assault due to the connected disgrace, it is probable that this is an underreported occurrence.

According to a report from 2010, it was mentioned that 5% of the study, which consisted of 1686 males randomly selected from the Eastern Cape and Kwa-Zulu Natal regions, had committed the act of child rape against individuals under the age of 15. Additionally, the report indicated that 27% of the participants had engaged in the act of raping a woman.

A fresh perspective on safeguarding children

The accounts from the offenders demonstrate that safeguarding children continues to be a significant obstacle for South Africa.

The system should work to prevent or act against abuse and disempowerment based on socioeconomic status, race, gender, and age, as these marginalized individuals are often more affected. To address this ongoing social problem, there should be continuous engagement at all levels to protect children.