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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Sexual politics and the Zuma rape trial
Author:Robins, StevenISNI
Periodical:Journal of Southern African Studies
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:sexual offences
gender discrimination
About person:Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma (1942-)ISNI
External link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03057070802038066
Abstract:This article focuses on post-apartheid developments in relation to the sexual politics that surrounded the 2006 rape trial of South Africa's former Deputy President, Jacob Zuma. The trial and its aftermath highlight contested interpretations of rights, morality, religion, culture and political leadership in post-apartheid South Africa. It also serves as a mirror reflecting the tension between sexual rights and patriarchal cultures. Whereas race and class concerns dominated oppositional politics during the apartheid era, sexual and gender rights now compete for space in the post-apartheid public sphere. There is a glaring gap between the progressive character of 'official' State, constitutional and NGO endorsements of gender and sexual equality on the one hand, and the deeply embedded ideas and practices that reproduce gender and sexual inequality on the other. Idealized conceptions of 'civil society' fail to adequately acknowledge its 'unruly' and 'uncivil' character. The responses of Zuma supporters, including NGOs, activists, academics and journalists attending the trial,. reveal a chasm between the sexual and gender equality ideals enshrined in the Constitution and promoted by progressive civil society organizations, and the sexual conservatism within the wider South African public. The article also examines how ideas about 'traditional' Zulu masculinity were represented and performed in the Zuma trial, thereby highlighting a tension between constitutional conceptions of universalistic sexual rights on the one hand, and claims to particularistic sexual cultures on the other. This tension is reproduced by the rhetorical productivity of a series of binaries: modern and traditional, rights and culture, liberal democracy and African communitarianism. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]