A striking pattern is emerging in fictional representations of rape published during the South African transition from apartheid to multi-racial democracy.1 It is a configuration that relentlessly inserts race into the scene of rape by focussing almost exclusively on interracial rape.2 The light shone on rape is refracted through the prism of race as the country once characterised by racial divisions refashions itself into the ‘rainbow nation’. Within this schema, the consequence of rape is measured in the birth of a ‘mixed race’ child. So dominant is this plot that even a narrative of male rape, K. Sello Duiker’s The Quiet Violence of Dreams, juxtaposes the rape of a black man by a coloured man with a black woman’s conception of a child by a German father. The substitution of woman’s body by body politic is highlighted in her name, Mmabatho (‘mother of the people’). Compelling though this scenario may be to writers, it is one that fails to ring true in reality, where rape is overwhelmingly intraracial and the rate of conception comparatively low.3 The literary script of rape thus distorts the realities of sexual violence in order to direct attention away from the violated female body — or the male body gendered female — and focus it on a trail of ‘blood’ weaving through the woman’s womb.
Samuelson, Meg, The Rainbow Womb: Rape and Race in South African Fiction of the Transition, Kunapipi, 24(1), 2002.