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Term 2 Week 5: Gender-Based Violence

This week we will examine gender-based violence in southern Africa. Our readings focus on instances of sexual violence in the Cape Colony, colonial Zimbabwe, and post-apartheid south Africa. We will consider links between sexual violence and colonial control, the impacts of legislation, and the endemic problem of gender-based violence in contemporary southern Africa.

Please note, the readings contain descriptions of physical and sexual violence.

Core Reading

P. Scully, ‘Rape, Race, and Colonial Culture: The Sexual Politics of Identity in the 19th Century Cape Colony, South Africa’, The American Historical Review 100, (1995), pp. 335-359.

John Pape, 'Black and white: The ‘perils of sex’ in colonial Zimbabwe', Journal of Southern African Studies 16 (1990), pp. 699-720.

Koni Benson & Joyce M. Chadya, 'Ukubhinya: Gender and Sexual Violence in Bulawayo, Colonial Zimbabwe, 1946–1956', Journal of Southern African Studies, 31 (2005), pp. 587-610.

Helen Moffett, ‘These Women, They Force Us to Rape Them’: Rape as Narrative of Social Control in Post-Apartheid South Africa, Journal of Southern African Studies, 32, 1 (2006), pp. 129-144

Seminar Questions

1. In what ways was sexual violence used as a tool of social control in colonial contexts?

2. How did instances of sexual violence reflect broader gender relations and power struggles in colonial societies?

3. To what extent do instances of sexual violence in contemporary southern Africa build on longer histories and structures of violence?

4. What types of source material can historians use to examine the history of sexual and gender-based violence?

Primary Sources

'Stories Of Change: South African Survivors of Sexual and Gender Based Violence Speak Out', from

UN Women, Perceptions Study on Social Norms around Violence against Women and Girls in Malawi (2018)

JM Coetzee, Disgrace (1999)

C. Smith, Proud of Me: Speaking Out against Sexual Violence and HIV (Johannesburg, Penguin, 2001)

Further Reading

Emily S. Burrill, Richard L. Roberts, and Elizabeth Thornberry (eds), Domestic Violence and the Law in Colonial and Post-Colonial Africa (Ohio AH, 2010).

Amanda Gouws, 'Gender-based violence in South Africa: what’s missing and how to fix it', The Conversation, May 25, 2017.

Rachel Jewkes, Charlotte Watts, Naeema Abrahams, Loveday Penn-Kekana and Claudia García-Moreno, 'Ethical and methodological issues in conducting research on gender-based violence in Southern Africa', Reproductive Health Matters, 8, 15 (2000), pp. 93-103.

T. Keegan, ‘Gender, Degeneration and Sexual Danger: Imagining Race and Class in South Africa, ca. 1912’, Journal of Southern African Studies 27, (2001), pp. 459-477.

Roger Y. Klomegah, 'Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) in Zambia: An Examination of Risk Factors and Gender Perceptions', Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 39, 4 (2008), pp. 557-569.

Jeremy Martens, 'Polygamy, sexual danger, and the creation of vagrancy legislation in colonial natal', The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 31, 3 (2003), pp. 24-45.

J. McCulloch, Black Peril, White Virtue. Sexual Crime in Southern Rhodesia, 1902-1935 (Bloomington, 2000).

D. Posel, ‘The Scandal of Manhood: “Baby Rape” and the Politicization of Sexual Violence in Post-Apartheid South Africa’, Culture, Health and Sexuality, 7, 1 (January 2005), pp.239–52.

Darlene Rude, 'Reasonable Men and Provocative Women: An Analysis of Gendered Domestic Homicide in Zambia', Journal of Southern African Studies, 25, 1 (1999), pp. 7-27.

Yandisa Sikweyiya, Rachel Jewkes and Robert Morrell, 'Talking about rape: South African men's responses to questions about rape', Agenda: Empowering women for gender equity, 21 (2007), pp. 48-57.

Yandisa Sikweyiya and Rachel Jewkes, 'Force and temptation: contrasting South African men's accounts of coercion into sex by men and women', Culture, Health & Sexuality, 11, 5 (2009), pp. 529-541.

Safer Spaces: 'Gender-based violence in South Africa'

Southern African Development Community: 'Gender Based Violence'

Elizabeth Thornberry, 'Defining Crime through Punishment: Sexual Assault in the Eastern Cape, c.1835–1900', Journal of Southern African Studies 37, 3 (September 2011), pp. 415-430.

Elizabeth Thornberry, Colonizing Consent: Rape and Governance in South Africa's Eastern Cape (Cambridge, 2019).