Black Peril White Virtue

Sexual Crime in Southern Rhodesia, 1902-1935

Jock McCulloch



In the period from 1902 until the mid 1930s Southern Rhodesia was swept by a series of moral panics. The sexual threat posed by black men to white women, which was known as Black Peril, led in 1903 to the introduction of the death penalty for attempted rape. Over the next decades more than twenty men were executed. Many of those men were innocent of any serious crime. Their fate is a reminder that sexual relations between Europeans and colonial subjects were one of the most problematic features of colonial life.


The larger theme of this book is paranoia and paradox. More specifically, it focuses on the obsession of white male colonizers in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) with the sexuality of colonized African men, most notably in relation to white women. - Michael O. West, Journal of Social History


Jock McCulloch is a Senior Lecturer at RMIT University in Melbourne. His principle interest is in contemporary African history. Previously he has worked as a Legislative Research Specialist in foreign affairs for the Australian Parliament and has taught at various universities.