South Africa’s education minister Angie Motshekga came under fire on Monday for saying that educated men do not commit rape, as the country struggles to grapple with a scourge of violence against women.
Official statistics show that police record 110 rape accusations every day in South Africa.
Addressing students at the opening of schools in Pretoria, the basic education minister said her government “has prioritised education because it knows that it’s only through education can we deal with some of our challenges… because an educated man won’t rape".
In a video clip posted by one of the country’s leading television networks, Newzroom Afrika, the students were heard responding in unison: “They do!"
The minister then remarked “or do they? I thought they need to be a bit civilised not to do certain things".
The country’s largest opposition party the Democratic Alliance said it wants the minister to “retract and apologise".
“These comments are utterly inappropriate and careless as the pervasive crisis of rape in South Africa knows no social, economic or educational boundaries," it said in a statement.
The leader of the opposition One South Africa Movement, Mmusi Maimane, lambasted the minister for a “lack of understanding about" rape and gender-based violence in the country.
“We urgently need a new minister of basic education," Maimane said.
In a statement after a storm of criticism on social media, the minister sought to explain herself, saying that rape was about power and her government aims to educate boys on handling “power relations between men and women from a young age".
“Educating men about power relations is also important in the fight against rape," she said. “Therefore, my remarks must not be taken out of the context of educating children to develop them to become better people."