In this upsetting and potentially triggering article, the Guardian reports that a quarter of South African men have raped, their victims mostly women and children. Men who rape are more likely to be HIV positive than others. Only 7% of reported rapes result in convictions.
The research was conducted by one Professor Rachel Jewkes, who said:
We have a very, very high prevalence of rape in South Africa. I think it is down to ideas about masculinity based on gender hierarchy and the sexual entitlement of men. It's rooted in an African ideal of manhood.
The article goes on to mention South African president Jacob Zuma:
Before his election as president, Jacob Zuma stood trial for the rape of a family friend. His supporters demonstrated at the court house, verbally attacked his accuser and sang "burn the bitch, burn the bitch". Zuma was eventually acquitted.
A connection between rape and the practice of polygamy is implied - the article doesn't say whether this is supported by evidence or not. This is an incredibly fraught issue. The researcher, and the article, imply that African culture promotes rape; particularly as South Africa is experiencing a rise in a nationalist sentiment with strong masculinist overtones.
I'm reminded of a debate amongst Australian feminists, who became deeply divided over how to respond to the high incidence of child abuse in some Aboriginal areas. They were struggling over how to protect the children without being disrespectful to Aboriginal culture. I encourage readers who want to comment on this issue to do so with sensitivity, and avoid any racialised generalisations.