"Young, Vulnerable, and Violated In the New South Africa" for The New York Times Magazine
July 12, 1998
In a nation that might have the highest incidence of rape in the world, children are becoming a primary target.
There are any number of reasons for the explosion of sexual assault. The success of the liberation movement left thousands of young men without a cause, uneducated, unemployed and accustomed to violence. At the same time, the breakdown of the apartheid laws triggered widespread migration, with millions of blacks flocking from the homelands to squatter camps in the cities. Privacy is nonexistent among the shacks, alcoholism is rampant, and law enforcement erratic. Moreover, women traditionally are held in low regard, and children, in general, are taught to be extremely submissive to adults, even strangers. In recent years, the fear of AIDS has also made young girls attractive to predatory men; for a time, there was even a rumor that sex with a virgin would cure the disease.
Text by Suzanne Daley