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Rape is not…

Rape is not something that can be avoided by good behaviour.

Rape is not something that is brought about by a woman’s “bad” behaviour.

Rape is something that a rapist chose to do. Rape can happen to anyone. The only person responsible for a rape is a rapist.


Rape is not your fault.

Rape is not about your sexual history.

Rape is not about the fact that you were drunk.

Rape is not about what you were wearing.

You are not to blame for your rape. Rape is something that someone chose to do you. Rape is a decision to ignore the requirement for consent. Anyone who is drunk cannot legally give consent.


Rape is not about pleasure.

Rape is not something that happens to you to teach you a lesson.

Rape is not capable of changing sexuality.

Rape is not a cure for HIV.

Rape is not something that only happens to women.

Rape myths normalise violent behaviour, making excuses for rapists’ decision to take something that is not their own. Rape does not only happen to women, but women are more likely to be raped than men.


Rape is not about monsters.

Rape is not about men who didn’t know what they were doing.

Rape is not something that happens in one particular way.

Rape is not something that doesn’t happen in marriages or relationships.

Most rapes in South Africa are committed by someone who knew the victim/survivor. Rape is not caused by madness, but by a decision to ignore another person’s right to say no to unwanted sexual advances. A rape is not something that a rapist does “by mistake”, but by choice.


Rape is not something that everyone reacts to in the same way.

Rape is not something that people heal from at a set speed.

People who have been raped react in different ways, heal in different ways, and process things in different ways. There is no “right” way to behave during a rape incident – some people fight, and others go still. There is no “right” way to behave after a rape incident – some people report and others do not. Healing after an incident of rape is a long and cyclical process. It requires patience, compassion, and support.


Rape is not a women’s problem.

It’s time for good men to start talking to other men, calling them out on their sexism and violence, and working to stop the normalisation of rape culture.



  • Jennifer is a feminist, activist and advocate for women's rights. She has a Masters in Politics from Rhodes University, and a Masters in Creative Writing from UCT. In 2010 she started a women's writing project called 'My First Time'. It focuses on women's stories of significant first time experiences. Buy the book on the site or via Modjaji Books. Jen's first novel, The Peculiars, came out in February 2016 and is published by Penguin. Get it in good book stores, and on


  1. Rory Short Rory Short 4 May 2016

    Jen a truth telling piece, a truly fantastic piece of writing. Thanks Jen.

  2. Fayzal Mahamed Fayzal Mahamed 6 May 2016

    A great article Jen but it is sad that you have to repeat these simple truths to a modern society who should by now have understood this simple morality that you talk about. A woman should be free to wear the flimsiest of clothing and be entitled to be as prococatively sexy as she feels like. Any person condoning rape because of a woman’s behaviour is in my eyes a barbarian not worthy of any respect.

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