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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Natal's Black Rape Scare of the 1870's
Author:Etherington, Norman A.
Periodical:Journal of Southern African Studies
Geographic terms:Natal
South Africa
Subjects:sexual offences
Women's Issues
History and Exploration
Ethnic and Race Relations
bibliographies (form)
Law, Legal Issues, and Human Rights
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/2636447
Abstract:At the end of the 1860s and in the early 1870s the white population of Natal was gripped by fear of black rape. The fear does not appear to have been engendered by any specific event, nor did it result in a marked increase of prosecutions for rape in the colonial courts. It ended as abruptly and mysteriously as it had begun. The hypothesis advanced in this case study is that fear of losing control was a constant undercurrent in the thinking of a settler minority. This substratum of anxiety rose to the surface in the form of a moral panic whenever disturbances in the economy or the body politic were severe enough to unsettle the mask of composure worn by the face of public authority. In a patriarchal society where women were part and parcel of property to be defended against threats from below, fear of rape was a special concern of white males. This study delineates the main features of the rape scare in mid-Victorian Natal round about 1870, and seeks principles of causation which link it to later, similar episodes in South Africa and elsewhere in the world. Abstr., notes, ref.