Contextualizing group rape in post-apartheid South Africa


Collective male sexual violence is part of a continuum of sexual coercion in South Africa. This paper is based on long-term ethnographic work in an urban township in the former Transkei region. Drawing on intensive participant observation and interviews with young men in particular, it attempts to make sense of emergent narratives relating to streamlining, a local term for a not uncommon form of collective sexual coercion involving a group of male friends and one or more women. The paper begins with an overview of existing anthropological literature on collective male sexual violence, going on to elaborate the different scenarios associated with group sexual violence in the fieldsite. It seeks to provide a multi-layered contextualization of the phenomenon by considering prevailing gender discourses, subcultural issues pertaining to the urban tsotsi phenomenon, the rural practice of ukuthwala (bride capture), young working-class Africans' experiences of marginalization, and the complex links between political economy and violence in this setting.


Wood, K. Contextualizing group rape in post-apartheid South Africa. Culture, Health and Sexuality (2005) 7 (4) 303-317. [DOI: 10.1080/13691050500100724]

Contextualizing group rape in post-apartheid South Africa

Published 1 January 2005