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24"  x  24"    0il on Canvas    (2000)                               $1500


According to the TRC’s Special Report on Women, a primary aim was:

“... to end the silences around the atrocities under Apartheid.  A primary aim of civil society’s intervention around gender was to end the silences around the gendered nature of those atrocities.” 

Ms. Thenjiwe Mtintso
, a former senior member of the ANC’s military wing, Umkhonto weSizwe, and more recently Head of South Africa’s Gender Commission, suggests that men use sexual abuse to show how weak the men of the opposition are and that sexual violence is often used to destroy the identity of women who have rejected traditional roles.  The TRC report quotes Siefert when she suggests that in a war situation ‘men’ and the ‘nation’ might collude in silencing testimony about sexual abuse because:

“The commemoration of female war victims would pass on the violation of manhood into peacetime.  This would be a continuous reminder that ‘national manhood’ has been humiliated by the enemy.  What is chosen instead is the mechanism of repression.”  TRC Report, Vol.4, Ch.10, Footnote #11.

Crimes of sexual abuse occurred in a variety of situations, not all of which involved a woman’s detention, but the vast majority occurred as part of the detention, interrogation and confinement experience.  These crimes included:


bulletBody searches and vaginal examinations.
bulletRape and forced intercourse with interrogators and other prisoners.
bulletForeign objects, including rats, forced into women’s vaginas.
bulletMolestation by prison doctors.
bulletDenial of clean change of underwear and protective clothing during menstruation.
bulletElectric shocks applied to nipples and genitals of detainees and electric shocks on pregnant women.
bulletGiving birth in presence of policemen who laughed at the pain.
bulletWomen being made the victim of men’s sadistic fantasies.
bulletWomen being gang-raped in front of their husbands by political opponents.
bulletWomen suffering sexual abuse, molestation and rape at hands of own comrades in training camps of the various liberation movements.
bulletSocial expectations of women exploited by torturers in order to force a confession.  (Examples include a woman being told her child is sick and is in hospital and needs her; being shown photographs of car accidents and told her children were fatally hurt; women told they are neglecting their roles to participate in politics; general humiliation by opponents.
Ms. Joyce Dipale, a leader of the Black Consciousness movement who was put in solitary confinement for 500 days and suffered electric shocks on her naked breasts, buttocks and genitals said she “... got used to the pain, but never the humiliation”. 


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