Sexual and nonsexual violence are perpetrated in South Africa at an alarming rate. While the precise rates of these phenomena are unknown, several attempts have been made to estimate these as well as factors that contribute to violence in South Africa, specifically sexual violence. Within the literature there are three probable factors that drive sexual violence in South Africa: gender norms, economic adversity, and age hierarchies. Other factors that may contribute to sexual violence, such as religion, cultural norms, social myths, misconceptions about HIV/AIDS, and a violent national history, may be a result of or contribute to the gender, economic, and age factors that will be discussed in this review. Using sex as a means of projecting power is an overarching theme in the literature and in each of these three phenomena. This review will give future research a foundation upon which to build studies and theories surrounding this power struggle.

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