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Health Equity in Africa

Discourses in accounts of rape by sex offenders in Limpopo province, South Africa.

Discourses in accounts of rape by sex offenders in Limpopo province, South Africa.

South Africa is known for having the highest number of sexual violence cases in the world. In response to these reports, the government has declared rape as a priority crime, and various measures have been put in place to address this scourge. Despite these measures, rape statistics have continued to escalate. It is against this background that this study sought to explore accounts of sexual offences, particularly reports of rape, from a sample of sex offenders. Data were drawn from five Correctional Centres in the Limpopo province. Nineteen sex offenders were selected through a purposive sampling approach and interviewed face-to-face. Discourse analysis was used to identify and analyse the patterns of talk that sex offenders drew upon to account for their sex offences. Findings revealed that ‘blame’ was the most dominant discourse cited. The ‘rhetoric of blame’ revolved around uncontained sexual desires, sexual entitlement, absent mothers, provocative dress code by women, and unfair laws that discriminated men when they asserted their sexual power in relationships with women. Multi-sectoral intervention strategies are recommended for deconstructing blame discourses that perpetuate rape offences in South Africa.

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