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(Mis)Understanding Same-Sex Sexual Violence Amongst Boys: A Perspective on Recent Rape Incidents in South Africa

Sebenzile Nkosi
Ncediswa Nunze
Yandisa Sikweyiya


Incidents of male–male sexual violence amongst young boys in South Africa have been brought into sharp focus by the media and, to a lesser extent, research, yet there continues to be very little research into this phenomenon in South Africa. In this perspective, evidence is presented of how the dearth of research has led to a limited appreciation of the associated risk factors and the socioeconomic circumstances under which male–male sexual violence amongst young boys occurs. It is possible to theorise that this neglect results from a gendered discourse which frames males and females as perpetrators and victims respectively, and disregards males as victims. Moreover, drawing on critical men and masculinities scholarship, the contention is made that this neglect also results from limited recognition that boys are gendered, that there are a multiplicity and hierarchy of masculinities amongst boys, with dominant masculinities sometimes employing physical and sexual violence to suppress and control subordinate and alternative masculinities. More research is urgently needed on boy–boy sexual violence in resource-poor communities in South Africa. Such work should be grounded in the critical men and masculinities framework. The findings from such research could inform the development of context-specific gender-transformative interventions for young adolescent boys, to prevent their construction of violent masculinities and the use of violence.

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eISSN: 1728-774X