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By Louise du Toit

This booklet bargains a serious feminist standpoint at the largely debated subject of transitional justice and forgiveness. Louise Du Toit examines the phenomenon of rape with a feminist philosophical discourse referring to women’s or ‘feminine’ subjectivity and selfhood. She demonstrates how the hierarchical dichotomy of male energetic as opposed to woman passive sexuality – which obscures the real nature of rape – is embedded within the dominant western symbolic body. via a Hegelian and phenomenological analyzing of first-person bills via rape sufferers, she excavates an realizing of rape that still begins to open up a fashion out of the denial and destruction of lady sexual subjectivity.

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2. The list of ‘gross human rights violations’ does not include rape whereas it does include torture, implying that torture as sex neutral, but not rape as sex specific, can rightly be viewed as a human rights violation. Thus, it is not surprising that many women chose to respond to this silencing gesture with a mere, mute staging of their silenced state: several women simply and profoundly testified that they were raped during the struggle, but could not testify about this before the TRC (cf. Sanders, 2002: 209, Krog, 1998: 178–79).

In conclusion, the condition for the possibility of forgiving rape is a definitive end to women’s exile from the symbolic order. This moreover is only possible if the sexes can come to find in each other (in the irreducibly sexual other) their absolute limit and thus also their border, in a sense their home. The sexes must give birth and a voice to each other through a radical delimitation of each other, including the political delimitation of the sexes and a sexualization or sexual differentiation of the political.

It reinforces their pervasiveness in—through their ‘present absence’ from—a system for which they act as guardians, gate-keepers and symbolic guarantees. My feminist reading of the struggle and transition is supported by texts such as Krog’s book and the report on the Special Women’s Hearing (cf. de Villiers, 1998) before the TRC. It is clear from these texts, one of the most common ways in which women militants were ‘broken’ in jail was through communicating to them that ‘real women’ are outside of politics and ‘safely’ at home, and are, moreover, ‘responsibly’ looking after their families—a sentiment echoed by some inside the liberation movement11.

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