While a publisher tasked by the department of basic education attempts to remedy a question in a Grade 10 life orientation textbook that raises misconceptions and stereotypes about rape, high school victims of rape might be subjected to more trauma reading it, an expert said.
The text refers to an incident of a girl who sneaked out of the house to attend a party with friends, got drunk and was raped by an unknown man.
The problematic question in the textbook that the department wants to rectify requires pupils to “list two ways in which Angie’s behaviour led to sexual intercourse”.
Dr Catherine Ward, an associate professor in the department of psychology at the University of Cape Town, applauded the DBE for its attempt to revise or remove the content, which insinuates this was intercourse and that the victim’s behaviour might have contributed to the rape.
But Ward warned: “A rape victim reading this material could only be further traumatised and have his or her psychological symptoms exacerbated by this. Note that rape victims, according to our recent research, may well be male as well as female, and in that sense this material perpetuates an unfortunate gender stereotype.
The effect of reading this material would be the same on both.”
Department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said although the textbook had been utilised since 2011, it had not received any complaints from anyone.
He said while they were trying to remedy the issue, pupils would continue to use the textbook. Mhlanga added that the publisher would advise whether to remove or revise the content. The department’s teachers were well trained and, before pupils could read the content, they would have it explained to them and be alerted to the nature of the text.