Women Abuse: 16 days of activism

Start the campaign in our own homes!

From November 25 to December 10 every year, the country dedicates itself to unite against women and child abuse. However a recent study of 1370 schoolboys in the Eastern Cape found that 1 in 5 boys admitted to raping girls. Numsa News spoke to Wits University psychology lecturer, Mzi Nduna. She believes that as parents we can do a lot to influence our sons’ behaviour so that they do not become rapists!

What the study found:* 1 in 5 boys admitted to raping girls* 172 had raped a non-partner; 64 had raped their girlfriends; 51 had raped their girlfriends and other girls* the vast majority of these schoolboy rapists admitted to gang-raping or ‘streamlining’

How much are children influenced by how their parents behave? Conditions at home influence children’s behaviour especially about what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. It doesn’t have to be just their parents, it could also be others like uncles, brothers and cousins displaying hostile and aggressive behaviour towards their partners. It is the whole context in which young boys and girls are socialised. For example, the extent to which sexual play has been accepted in communities leaves no room for interventions at home to teach young boys and girls about the dangers involved.

What kinds of behaviour by parents, especially by male family members could encourage boy children to behave in this way? Studies by the Human Science Research Council (HSRC) don’t seem to show that unsafe sexual behaviour declines with age. This means that if parents are displaying unsafe sexual conduct like having extra marital partners; or if they themselves have kids out of wedlock in front of their own children then this spills over to their children. Also if adults use violence to solve relationship problems, children follow that example.

What other actions can negatively affect schoolboys in particular? There is also the level to which parents neglect their children. If this occurs then children find other ways of getting emotionally satisfied. Most of those that had raped had been exposed to physical, emotional and sometimes sexual violence at home. The children in the study who were involved in gang rape often also reported emotional and physical abuse by their parents and were also doing alcohol and drugs. In some cases they had been verbally abused by parents or had received non-physical punishment that they felt was too harsh, or had received threats of maltreatment. Children need love and support so that they can get a sense of the value of humanity.

Did you find any signs that models of acceptable behaviour were being taught at circumcision schools? No, we still see young boys after circumcision behaving in ways that are sexually irresponsible – not using condoms, participating in group sexual activities that force young girls to have sex with them, having multiple partners. At times this happens in the context of heavy alcohol drinking. For example it seemed acceptable for an older boy who is 22 to participate in gang rape. That is what makes one worry because at this stage they should be behaving responsibly. The whole process of going through the initiation school should be an opportunity for boys to redefine manhood.

The study also said that boys raped girls to punish them for “being successful or for imagining she could be superior”. Can you explain this? This is what came out in smaller focus group discussions but it is not a new phenomenon. Boys, especially those that had mothers who had gone to high school and beyond, felt they had higher status because their parents are educated and did not see any reason why a girl should turn them down. And when boys felt that they didn’t have access to some girls who thought they were prettier and good in the community, and had made a decision not to be sexually active, one way to bring them down was to gang rape them.

What can parents do to discourage this kind of behaviour?Boys are always given leeway, they get less work at home. They have a lot of free time. It’s subtly accepted for boys to go and hang around and involve themselves in anti-social behaviour. There needs to be a redefinition of what boyhood and manhood are. We shouldn’t see them as being associated with anti-social behaviour.

We have to change the way we socialise them. We must allow them to participate in activities at home so they can understand and respect activities that are not anti-social and behave responsibly.

And it must start from an early age. We buy boys soccer boots, guns and then they run around the house terrorising everyone with toy guns. But girls we encourage to look after someone or something, like dolls. Boys grow up with an attitude that says life is tough and you have to use force to get your way. When they are older they use the same violence against us! We also have to counter the attitude that to be a boy you should be aggressive and if you are not, you are a sissy.


Umkhankaso wokwilisana nodlame kubantu besifazane nezingane kufanele uqale emakhaya ethu! Ucwaningo olwenziwe ebafaneni abasafunda isikole eMpumalanga Kapa luthole ubufakazi obushaqisayo ngezinga lokudlwengula okwenziwa abafana besikole. Omunye wabacwaningi, umfundisi waseNyuvesi yaseWits, isazi sezifundo zengqondo, uMzi Nduna, uthi izingane zihamba ezinyathelweni zabazali bazo noma ezibonelweni zezihlobo zazo ezindala. Uma abazali.izihlobo benabalingani abathanddana nabo kodwa bebe beshadile; uma izihlobo zesilisa ziphatha abalingani bazo besifazane ngonya noma ngendlela enendluzula, noma uma bona ngokwabo benezingane bengashadile phambi kwezingane zabo, kungenzeka-ke ukuthi izingane zilandele ezinyathelweni zabo. Ukhuthaza ukuthi abazali bashintshe izindlela abakhulisa ngazo amadodana abo emphakathini. Abazali kufanele babavumele bahlanganyele emisebenzini yasekhaya ukuze bafunde ukuhlonipha nokubhekana nezinto okufanele bazenze, babanike uthando kanye nokwesekwa abakudingayo ukuze bagweme indlela yokuziphatha engavumelani nomphakathi njengokudlwengula.
Die veldtog teen geweld teen vroue en kinders moet in ons eie huise begin!”˜n Ondersoek onder skoolseuns in die Oos-Kaap het skokkende getuienis opgelewer oor die omvang van verkragting deur skoolseuns. Een van die navorsers, Mzi Nduna, dosent in sielkunde aan Wits, wys daarop dat kinders hulle ouers of ander volwassenes se voorbeeld volg. As ouers/familielede buite-egtelike verhoudings het; as die manlike familielede hulle vroulike lewensmaats op “˜n vyandige of aggressiewe manier behandel, of as hulle self voor hulle kinders nog buite-egtelike kinders het, dan sal hulle kinders hulle voorbeeld volg. Sy doen “˜n beroep op ouers om die manier waarop hulle hulle seuns grootmaak, te verander. Ouers moet hulle toelaat om aan aktiwiteite by die huis deel te neem sodat hulle respek en verantwoordelikheid kan aanleer. Hulle moet ook hulle kinders die liefde en ondersteuning gee wat hulle nodig het sodat hulle anti-sosiale gedrag soos verkragting sal vermy.
Letsholo la twantsho ya tshebediso ya dikgoka kgahlanong le basadi le bana le lokela ho qala malapeng a rona!Diphuputso tsa bashanyana ba sekolo mane Eastern Cape di fumane bopaki bo tshosang ba ho ata ha ho betwa ha bashanyana ba sekolo. E mong wa bafuputsi, morupelli wa saekholoji yunivesithing ya Wits, Mzi Nduna, o re bana ba latela mehlala ya batswadi ba bona kapa batho ba baholo ba leloko. Ha batswadi/ba leloko ba na le balekane ba bang bao ba ratanang le bona; ha ba leloko ba banna ba tshwara balekane ba bona ba basadi ka tsela e sa thabiseng kapa nang le ntwa, kapa haebe bona ka bobona ba na le bana ka ntle ho lenyalo la bona, moo bana ba bona ba latela mehlaleng ya bona.O ipiletsa ho batswadi ho fetola tsela eo ba phedisanang ka teng le bara ba bona. Batswadi ba lokela ho ba dumella ho ba le seabo diketsahalong tsa lapeng hore ba tle ba ithute hlompho le ho ba le boikarabelo, ba ba fe lerato le tshehetso eo ba e hlokang hore ba tle ba qobe boitshwaro bo kgahlanong le kahisano bo jwalo ka ba ho beta.