Grade 10 text book outrage

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A Grade 10 textbook is under fire for, its critics say, promoting the justification of rape, and the blaming and shaming of rape victims.

The Department of Basic Education has told the publisher of the Focus Life Orientation Grade 10 Learner’s Book to amend or remove a question about how a girl’s behaviour led to her rape.

A Facebook post by Yonela Palesa Moopelwa, which included a photograph of the page in the book on which the question appears, was brought to the attention of The Times yesterday.

A girl named Angie tells the reader that she went to a party without her parents’ permission, got drunk and was raped.

Pupils are then instructed to answer three questions, the first being: “List two ways in which Angie’s behaviour led to sexual intercourse.”

Moopelwa, in her post, said the topic was teaching children to justify rape.

The department said the book had been in use at public schools since 2011 and had not elicited complaint until it was brought to its attention yesterday.

Spokesman Elijah Mhlanga said it was unacceptable that pupils were being led to believe that rapists were drawn to rape by the behaviour of their victims.

“The question raises very serious questions, such as misconceptions and stereotypes surrounding rape and the relationship between perpetrator and victim; and that the victim might have played a role that led to her being raped,” he said.

Mhlanga, however, added that specialists who evaluated the material could not at this stage be blamed.

Gender activist Lisa Vetten said the question not only laid blame on rape victims and ignored the culpability of perpetrators, it confused the concept of rape by referring to it as “sexual intercourse”.

book outcry

She said the issue emphasised the importance of having knowledgeable people writing and teaching about gender-based violence.

“This also questions the level of quality control that went into the book. It is worrying that no subject teachers had identified the problem,” said Vetten.

Educational psychologist Kobus Maree said the content risked causing rape victims more trauma, believing it was their fault.

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