Spotlight on Rape, Gender violence in the Spotlight

How institutional sexism and economic power get sexual predators 'off the hook'

The economic and social power of many high-profile men often enables them to get away with sexual predation.

Local public figures such as Soccer boss Danny Jordaan and Emfuleni Mayor Simon Mofokeng have recently been implicated in sexual assault allegations.

Abroad, Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey have also made headlines for accusations of sexual misconduct.

Activist Lebo Ramafoko says many powerful men excuse their sexual misconduct or remain silent and maintain their social status, even after victims speak out.

Read: 'Sex addiction' does not exist (or excuse sexual abuse) - Dr Eve

Ramafoko explains that a man's socio-economic capital, paired with society's patriarchal and sexist culture, can perpetuate the injustices experienced by survivors of sexual abuse.

[Danny Jordaan] is acting within a culture that says he can do this and it will not cost him anything socially. It's even worse when you add economic power and the misogynistic culture in South Africa.

Lebo Ramafoko, CEO of Soul City Institute

Ramafoko says this misogynistic culture was evident even when President Jacob Zuma was accused of raping the late Fezekile "Khwezi" Kuzwayo in 2006.

Also read: Understanding misogyny (and how it affects both men and women)

Fighting against skewed socio-economic power

Men are still predominately the leaders of industry and gatekeepers of financial opportunities, which can lead to the abuse of their institutional power.

Futurologist, Citizen Nina says that society needs to begin to disrupt institutionalised sexism and misogyny to change the culture of rape, particularly using social media.

Sexism operates in an economic, social, political and psychological way.

Citizen Nina, gender activist and futurologist

Misogyny and the law

Meanwhile, law expert Bonita Mayersfield says that the law system works against victims of rape because of misogynistic evidentiary requirements.

She explains that proving sexual assault, rape and violence against women in court becomes impossible because the legal system is constructed and maintained by white masculinity.

The limits of law are immersed fundamentally in the same social structures. They've been developed by white men, for white men and from the white man's perspective.

Bonita Mayersfield, Director of the Centre for Applied Legal Studies and associate professor of law at Wits

The panel of lamented how many how artists and so-called leaders accused of sexual misconduct are still celebrated in popular culture.

Take a listen to the insightful discussion and callers weigh in:


This article first appeared on CapeTalk : How institutional sexism and economic power get sexual predators 'off the hook'


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