"We live in fear, we feel so unsafe": the imagination and fear of rape in South Africa

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Dosekun, Simidele (2007)

This article explores the meanings of rape in South Africa for fifteen women at the University of Cape Town who claim to have not experienced rape. It is based upon qualitative interviews with these women and offers a discursive analysis of their talk. The article shows that the women tend to distance the actual occurrence and threat of rape. At the same time, they assume a natural vulnerability to rape, with the result that they imagine and fear it as always possible in the course of their daily lives. The article reconstructs the ways in which the women’s imagination and fear of rape adversely impacts upon their sense of safety, agency and belonging in South Africa today. Illustrating the power of discourses to shape both subjective and social realities, it concludes that feminist research and activism must pay attention to the discursive dimensions of the rape crisis in South Africa.
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