The Relationship Between Structural Oppression And The Rape Of Black Women In South Africa And All Over The World

Today, we’re not going to ignore the fact that most victims of gender based violence are black women. We’re not going to pretend like white women know what black women are going through. We’re not going to pretend that Amber Rose’ nude photo is an act of feminism, at least not in South Africa. A woman’s voluntary nudity (in public, on social media, at home) in our world,  is a ceasefire, a shield against violence, a symbol of power. It’s an absolute act of rebellion against structures, institutions and hierarchies, a reality that is missing in Amber Rose’s “feminist” post.

“It is time for the boundaries of Black Women, Black Women bodies, Black Women minds and Black Women history to be respected and revered…”

Black women are at the helm of multiple oppressive structures, just working against them. From poverty to lack of security and ultimately, more exposure to violence. Below is a list of facts about what is happening to black women in South Africa and I’m willing to bet that black women everywhere will find remnants of their own struggles:

  • The rape of Black Women is institutionalized and regulated by culture, government and male dominated society
  • Rape statistics are not reliable. Most cases go unreported, most Black Women, don’t tell anyone.
  • Rape is an extension of the painful atrocities Black Women have been subjected to since colonization.
  • During Apartheid, only the rape of white women was prosecuted, which may very well be the case today
  • The fact that power systems are predominantly male contributes to the violence against Black Women – other women are more privileged
  • There’s a social acceptance of the rape of Black Women, a normalization that makes it hard for us to speak up
  • Poor Black Women are more likely to suffer in silence because poverty in South Africa isn’t just sexist, it’s also racist, that’s two strikes
  • Forced sex is not a big deal for young men because of a patriarchal culture within our communities and the distinction between a boy and a man
  • Unemployed Black Women are forced into subordination and because of this, poor women are deemed inferior – they start to believe it
  • Black leadership will never save Black Women, their fight is underlined by power and domination
  • White women do not sympathize with Black Women, they never have, most were openly hostile towards Black Women
  • The police play a huge role in perpetuating a culture that devalues Black Women and their safety by not knowing about “Rape culture” as a social theory.
  • Society uses stereotypes about Black Women to dull our plight, the “ratchet” tropes and how we’re more sexualized than other races
  • For instance, white women wear short shorts and no one says anything, Black Women are Jezebels for wearing the same thing
  • These stereotypes are used to justify the atrocities committed against us, they’re especially used to minimize the seriousness of sexual harassment
  • Men aren’t prosecuted for raping Black Women because “you think you’re good enough to rape” is a long standing societal belief
  • People find it easy to make rape jokes because they’re disconnected from the trauma, it’s been desensitized and made light

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Thabi Myeni
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South African || BLACK || Intersectional Feminist || Founder of Friends of Hers

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