Shame and rape in South Africa
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The mystifying dualism of shame is that it is at once an isolating, intimately intra-psychic phenomenon seeking concealment, while remaining deeply embedded in a visual and public interpersonal space. This chapter aims to examine how the shame felt in relation to sexual violence in particular occurs at the interface of private and public spaces, affecting both perpetrator and rape survivor. An investigation of the noxious affect of shame for both rapists and survivors of rape is especially pertinent in the context of sexual violence in South Africa, a country among those with the highest prevalence of rape in the world. Using the example of President Zuma’s rape trial, the chapter explores how the perpetrators’ “walk of shame” is often turned into a “walk of fame” – with many rapists walking away as heroes, having passed the shame onto the survivor within an arguably patriarchal social and legal context. What is examined is the myriad of ways in which rape survivors are shamed by a deeply entrenched, negative social stigma surrounding womanhood, sex and sexual violence. The chapter thus deals with both rapist and rape survivor, using the example of President Zuma’s rape trial to outline the complex manifestations of shame which surround sexual violence.
, at 8th International Conference on Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Charles University, Prague
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