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Posts Tagged ‘rape’

finger pointing

Victim blaming is nothing new. But in recent weeks I’ve been astounded as to just how entrenched it is in people’s minds.

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Male rape – it’s real

Credit: GCIS on flickr

Credit: GCIS on flickr

In an effort to be calm and exude relaxation, I try not get too riled up about things I read. But sometimes there are things that really ruffle my feathers. This time, it’s the reactions I see to male rape…

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“You strike a woman, you strike a rock” – the famous quote from the 1956 women’s march on the Union Buildings.

Apparently, many took that quote to mean you can therefore strike a woman over and over again.

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As a student journalist, I am aware of the media’s failings to cover certain important issues with consistency. I have created a timeline using Dipity, tracking news reports and other media regarding the issue of rape in South Africa. This timeline includes all forms of rape including corrective rape, child rape and male rape. It is my hope that it will help us become more aware of what is happening in South Africa.

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Social networks and news sites were taken by storm this week when the story of a gang rape video went viral. People expressed disgust, shock and concern about South African society.

However, the reality is that while this incident caught international attention, rape and gang rape occurs on a daily basis in South Africa. Some were shocked at the fact that people watched the video, and while I, too, find this disturbing, the truth is that many people have a morbid fascination with taboo and violence. Many of us are unsettled by pictures of the Holocaust and Vietnam, and news media often spreads scenes of violence to shock their viewers.

We are fascinated by what is shocking, but I feel that it goes deeper than this. What I found most disturbing is that the rapists felt the need to record and distribute the girl’s pain and terror for the world to see. It’s reported they laughed at her and taunted her, offering her R2 for her silence. The thought of this scene makes me nauseous, but it also brings to the fore that this is happening– unrecorded and unheard of – to countless others.

I think that once this case is over and the perpetrators have been prosecuted, the issue will slip under the radar once again, only to be dug up again in the occasional feature on the prevalence of rape in our country or for an exceptionally shocking or violent case.

What saddens me most is that these incidents are nowhere close to ending. It is no coincidence that South Africa is both the most unequal society in the world and also considered the rape capital of the world. While it is inexcusable to rape anyone, poverty plays a massive role in violent crime.

People are forced to live in terrible conditions on a mass scale where a cycle of violence, cruelty and anger is perpetuated and alcohol and drugs are used as an escape. Rape is often about power, and in a patriarchal society women and children (and men who are perceived as ‘weaker’) bear the brunt of this anger and frustration.

This is where I look to the government in anger – because of corruption and fiscal irresponsibility; people continue to live in poverty. The government doesn’t do much to dispel myths in rape culture either. Remember Malema’s comment about rape? “When a woman didn’t enjoy it, she leaves early in the morning. Those who had a nice time will wait until the sun comes out, request breakfast and ask for taxi money.”

With ideas like this being spouted by those whom we are supposed to respect and follow, is it so shocking that therapists in the video taunted the girl with an offer of R2 for her silence? If we want to see a real change in South African society, our government needs to fulfil its promises and help alleviate the poverty which perpetuates crimes like these, so that these horrific scenes no longer constitute ‘just another day’ in South Africa.

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