In a study released on Thursday it has been found that more than a quarter of South African men have admitted to raping a woman or girl. 9.8 percent have apparently forced themselves on a victim for the first time before the age of 10.
The Medical Research Council (MRC) study of 1,738 men found that nearly half had done so more than once, driving home South Africa's reputation as one of the world's worst rape capitals.
Among the men surveyed, 27.6 percent admitted to raping a woman or girl. One in five of confessed rapists had HIV, added the study, which canvassed men of all race groups, different socio-economic backgrounds, and urban and rural areas.
Nearly 10 percent of the men said they had forced a woman or girl into sex for the first time when aged under 10 years old.
Nearly 73 percent of the men surveyed committed their first rape while under age 20.
The incidence of HIV among rapists was similar to the rate among the general population. But 27.8 percent of the men who said they had committed same-sex assaults tested positive for HIV.
More than 42 percent of men in the study said they were physically violent to their partners, and those men were more likely to have HIV, the council said.
South Africa has one of the world's highest rates of reported rape with 36,190 cases -- 99 per day -- reported to police in 2007, but experts say that only a small number of attacks are actually reported.
The country has the highest number of HIV infections in the world.