Male Rape: Part 2 — The law catches up but culture lags

malerape[notice].Male rape has, for a long time, been almost completely unacknowledged, rarely reported and often scorned. How, after all, can a man possibly be raped? In the second article in a 4-part series, DIANNE STEVEN focuses on male rape and the law.[/notice]

Male rape has been around for a long time but it took many years for the legal system in South Africa to catch up with this reality.

Legal recognition of rape and sexual assaults against men finally came about with the passing of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act in 2007.

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Previously sexual attacks on men could only be classified as indecent assault. Only males could be charged with rape and females were the only victims recognised by law.

Before 2007 rape meant vaginal intercourse. The amended Act broadens the definition of rape to include forced anal or oral sex, irrespective of the gender of either the victim or the perpetrator. It also includes sexual penetration with an inanimate object or animal genitalia.

The South African constitution guarantees gender equality and the right of a person to freedom and security.

The Bill aims to provide survivors of rape and sexual assault with the maximum and least traumatising protection the law can provide.

Appropriately, the revised law also deals with rape victims’ risk of contracting HIV. Recent statistics indicate that about 5.4 million people out of a population of 48 million in South Africa are infected with the HI virus.

Victims of rape or sexual assault may obtain a court order for alleged offenders to undergo compulsory HIV testing and for the results to be revealed to them.

The Act also provides for post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for rape victims to prevent HIV-infection. For this to be effective however, victims should be able to access it within 72 hours.

The law has caught up with the reality of male rape and HIV infection risks. But how is it being implemented?

Despite indications that male on male rape is widespread, I have not found any reports of males charged or convicted of raping males. This is no doubt linked to the fact that shame and fear (especially in prison rapes) hold males back from reporting that they have been raped.

I did find a report of a precedent-setting ruling in February 2012 in which a court found a woman guilty of raping a male. The 45-year-old Eastern Cape woman caregiver was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for raping a mentally and physically handicapped boy of 13.

Port Elizabeth National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Tsepo Ndwalaza said: “It is the first conviction of its kind. She is the first woman to be successfully convicted of rape in South Africa.”

An unusual male rape case is documented in a case report of SA Family Practice, a journal of SA family physicians. It details an incident in 2009 in which a 32-year-old Xhosa-speaking security guard from Transkei was abducted and forced to have sex with three women over a period of three days. An armed man ordered the victim to strip for the women. During his ordeal he was given an unknown potion to drink and an ointment was applied to his genitals.

On the morning of the fourth day, the victim was dropped off, and he reported the case to the police soon thereafter. He had not taken a bath or any medication prior to reporting the case. The reason for presenting to a medical officer was to open a case, and to receive help for the psychological trauma. On the day of the examination, the subject was apprehensive and mildly dehydrated. There were no injuries. His genitalia were clean, dry and normal, therefore, no specimen was collected for forensic evidence. He was offered psychological counseling and an HIV test, and post exposure prophylaxis (PEP). The police however failed to open a case. This case highlights the difficulties faced by male rape victims. Despite reporting his ordeal — something that is not easy to do in a culture in which being raped by a woman is not acceptable — he was apparently not taken seriously by law enforcers. The law has caught up with reality but it seems that SA culture has some catching up to do.

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    South African Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse (SAMSOSA) is a Not for Profit Company 2012/176739/08 that offers support for professionals working with male survivors of rape and sexual abuse in the form of professional development conferences, workshops and referrals. Male survivors are supported through a weekend workshop that provides the participants with the tools required to move from survivor to thriver.


    WORKING WITH MALES OF SEXUAL ABUSE is a one day professional development workshop for people working with men in both the professional and voluntary sector. It will be held in Johannesburg on the 17th September 2013 at the GIBS Business School and in Cape Town on the 25thSeptember 2013 at Backsberg Estate. The cost is only R895 which includes all refreshments, lunch and notes

    MALE SEXUAL VICTIMISATION CONFERENCE to be held in Johannesburg on the 18th September 2013 at the GIBS Business School. The purpose of the conference is to provide professionals with the Knowledge, skills and insight that will enable them to provide appropriate interventions and strategies when working with male survivors of rape and sexual abuse. R795 includes refreshments, lunch and speakers notes.

    VICTIMS NO LONGER is a weekend recovery workshop for non offending male survivors, 20 – 22 September 2013 at the Ngomo Safari Lodge, Cradle of Humankind. The purpose of the weekend is to provide support and strategies that will move the male survivor through the process of healing from victim to survivor to thriver in a safe, controlled and supportive environment. If a male survivor is financially unable to meet the costs of R995 including accommodation, meals and handouts, application can be made to SAMSOSA for financial assistance by contacting SAMSOSA via email

    The weekends, conferences and workshops will be facilitated by Mike Lew, an internationally renowned specialist from Boston, USA and author of the book “Victims No Longer: The Classic guide for Men recovering from Sexual Abuse”.

    As a male survivor, I have experienced the reality of rape and sexual abuse. A tipping point in my recovery as a survivor of both sexual abuse and rape, was when I travelled to Scarborough in the UK to attend a “Victims No Longer” weekend. Facilitated by author Mike Lew a world renowned expert in this field of recovery, I was afforded the opportunity for the first time ever to interact with other male survivors. I did not have to explain my feelings as the men there experienced first-hand the pain and trauma I had gone through. I am no longer a victim or a survivor; I can now proudly say I am a thriver. It was with this motivation that I founded SAMSOSA and have worked to make it possible that South Africans do not have to leave the borders of our country to derive the benefits of this life changing experience.

    Please find attached more details about the events mentioned above. Please pass this onto your associates. For further information on the organisation and helpful resources visit our website

    If you have any further queries please do not hesitate to contact me personally.

    Rees Mann
    071 280 9918