AN ISSUE OF SOCIAL AND POLITICAL SALIENCE: A CONTENT ANALYSIS OF HOW SOUTH AFRICAN NEWSPAPERS REPORT ON ‘CORRECTIVE RAPE’

Marchant van der Schyff

Abstract


“cor▪rec▪tive: intended to make something better” – This word has positive connotations when related to scientists and activist endeavours to find and develop remedies to problems which plague the world. However, when coupled with sexual violence against South African lesbians, most of whom are black and living in depressed communities, the word is used to describe a tool used to ‘rectify’ their personal identity. The term, ‘corrective rape’ therefore becomes an ironic misnomer used to describe an act of sexual assault that attempts to ‘rectify’ perceived deviant, lesbian or homosexual behaviour (Bryson, 2011). The increase in ‘corrective rape’ cases in South Africa can be attributed to a misogynistic culture rooted in traditional perceptions of women who face new and emancipatory democracy, alcoholism and/ or homophobia (Rape crisis, 2012). This study will include a discussion on ‘corrective rape’, which necessitates a description of rape and the power relationships that enable its subsistence. The paper will also present an argument around the desensitisation of South African citizenry through media messages that has resulted in collective apathy. The aim of this study is to investigate reportage and framing of ‘corrective rape’ by South African media. The Agenda-setting theory as well as Framing and Representation is offered and applied as part of a critical paradigm to understand the media’s representation of the issue of ‘corrective rape’. The study found that South African print media has severely underrepresented cases of ‘corrective rape’ and  has failed to create the necessary salience required around the issue of ‘corrective rape’, especially as an emergent trend and extreme contravention of the freedoms espoused in the South African Constitution for lesbian citizens.


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5789/11-1-281

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