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By Louise Du Toit

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Du Toit examines the phenomenon of rape utilizing a feminist philosophical discourse bearing on women’s subjectivity and selfhood. The booklet presents a critique of the dominant figuring out of rape and its linked harm, and indicates alternatives.

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The woman represents the home which has to be kept ‘pure’ of politics and violence, and her primary responsibility is to keep that home going for the men who will one day return. The message to these women was clear: you cannot both be a woman (sexually specific) and a political agent. When you try to be both, you become a prostitute, and your sexuality becomes available to men in general. By entering the public-political sphere, which is masculine territory, women silently agreed to have their sexuality transformed from a private possession into a publicly available commodity or instrument in the service of the struggle.

Sanders, 2002: 209, Krog, 1998: 178–79). They chose to draw attention to the multiple ways in which they were being and had been silenced rather than to be doubly silenced by exposing their suffering but having it nullified or trivialised by the constraints of the context. One must ask provisionally whether public communication in the TRC broke down at the point of women’s sexual violation because women could not speak, or rather, because men could not hear. The failure of the TRC to forge a vocabulary and a public space within which to address women’s fundamental, structural marginalization within politics—whether struggle, transition or reconciliation politics—in fact ensured that it remains (structurally, logically, politically) impossible to publicly pose the question of forgiveness to women rape victims, fourteen years into a democratic dispensation.

Two aspects of this mandate can be criticised from women’s point of view. 20 A Philosophical Investigation of Rape 1. Historically and traditionally, women have been excluded within the South African context from defi nitions of the political through highly patriarchal cultures and social institutions. Therefore, the qualification of ‘politically motivated’, applied uncritically, may prejudice against the inclusion of women’s suffering by for example, the presupposition that women’s lives and bodies belong to the private rather than the political realm.

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