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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Casper, Crebis and the knegt: rape, homicide and violence in the eighteenth-century rural Western Cape
Author:Penn, NigelISNI
Periodical:South African Historical Journal (ISSN 1726-1686)
Geographic terms:South Africa
The Cape
Subjects:sexual offences
Abstract:Rape is a shockingly prevalent crime in contemporary South Africa. Using a micro-historical approach to analyse a rape case in the criminal records of the Dutch East Indies Company (VOC) this article seeks to explore whether rape was as widespread in the eighteenth-century Cape as it is today. In examining the details of a case in which a white knecht (hired labourer) raped a Khoikhoi woman and murdered her son the article finds that no white man was ever convicted for the rape of a Khoikhoi or a slave woman and seeks to explain why this was the case. It also finds that though white settlers greatly feared that their women would be raped by slave or Khoikhoi men, this seldom happened. Though focusing on rape the article also examines colonial attitudes towards illicit or extra-marital sex between members of different racial groups. It concludes that issues of honour and respectability played a role in limiting rape and that, despite a climate of violence, there is plentiful evidence of consensual interracial sex, especially in the frontier regions. Although rape was a crime that white men could commit with virtual impunity, the records do not provide evidence that rape was common. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]