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UJ explores issues of manhood and rape

One of South Africa’s most serious challenges is rape, and while there are men who rape, far more men in our country continue to fight against rape and violence against women and children. Manhood becomes an integral part of the discourses surrounding issues of rape and these were recently explored at UJ.
Mr Mike Muendane – life coach, author, radio commentator and former politician – spent Valentine’s Day with men and women at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) to discuss what it means to be a man in a time when rape is so rife in our communities.
Manhood in the age of Rape
The open discussion titled Manhood in the age of Rape and facilitated by Malaika Wa Azania (Mahlatsi), explored manhood in South Africa and how men are perceived by young women, and vice versa.
Professor Tinyiko Maluleke, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Internationalisation, Advancement and Student Affairs at UJ, along with Muendani, actively engaged with UJ’s young men and women on the crisis which continues to grip the nation. Muendani reiterated to students about the power of thinking wrongly about manhood, while Mahlatsi addressed the power of women’s experiences of men.
The comments and feelings by students expressed the mood of the nation, and what South Africa, on a broader scale, thinks and feels when it comes to issues of rape and violence against women and children.
“Men are visionaries, heads, and seed bearers. Women are complicated, sexy and provocative,” so said some of the students at the discussion.
“Is that why they intimidate, torture, rape and kill? Does raping and violating them make them less complicated?” asked Prof Maluleke. “Are men without seed not men? Are women without wombs not women?” asked Mahlatsi.
According to Prof Maluleke, there is a tendency to refuse to account and a denial of responsibility when, as one student phrased it, men who rape claim to have been possessed with a ‘devil made me do it’ attitude.
Why do some men rape babies?
In keeping with the theme of rape and gender-based violence, UJ’s Centre for Social Development in Africa (CSDA) will be hosting Dr Amelia Kleijn, a researcher and an independent social worker in private practice, who has conducted a series of in-depth interviews over three years with ten men in maximum-security prisons around South Africa, all of whom were serving long sentences for raping children younger than three.
The main aim of the study was to explore the men’s psychosocial histories, and the factors that compelled them to behave so violently towards particularly young children.
Dr Kleijn’s findings include, amongst others, that these men experienced childhood without positive role models or mentors in their lives, reflecting their lack of social and community cohesion; that these perpetrators’ rape of young children, was motivated by the need for revenge against men and women who were not necessarily related to the young victims; and that these men’s childhoods were associated with extreme forms of maltreatment.
The seminar, to be held at the Faculty of Humanities Common Room (C Ring 319) at the Auckland Park Kingsway Campus on Thursday, 20 February 2014, is scheduled from 16:00 to 18:00.
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