The F-word – Cops need to go on their own ‘slutwalk’

2011-09-24 11:27

South Africa is experiencing the worldwide phenomenon of “slutwalks” where women dressed what some would describe as “scantily” march the streets in protest against rape.

The walks were apparently sparked by a thoughtless remark by a policeman in Toronto, Canada, who said that women would not be raped if they did not dress like “sluts”.

At the core of the Slutwalk movement is enforcing the idea that the only person worth blaming for a rape is a rapist and nobody else. It is never the raped woman’s fault.

Supporters of Slutwalk say that women are entitled to dress as they wish. Implicit in this is that they can also go where they wish and drink what they wish without anybody thinking that women are suddenly deserving of rape because of the choices they have made.

Reasonable people should agree with this proposition.

I wish police officers could go on a march similar to that of Slutwalk in protest against police killings.

If we were to adopt a Slutwalk approach to police killings we would easily realise that it is wrong to want to blame the police for falling victim to criminals.

We would know that not even being poorly trained gives criminals the right to think they are justified in thinking nothing of killing those whose job it is to protect law-abiding citizens.

It must not be acceptable that killing a badly trained police officer is something of a mitigating factor.

For me, shifting focus from the vileness of the murderer to the officer is not dissimilar to wanting to justify the rape of a woman on the basis of what she was wearing or where she was at a certain time of the day or night.

No right thinking person can want to discount the importance of proper training to reduce the chances of cops dying at the hands of criminals.

We must however get to a position where killing a police officer is plainly wrong – finish and klaar.

In South Africa we seem to be caught up in a pre-1994 mindset that seeks to justify the murder of police officers.

Under apartheid, killing of police officers could be justified in the sense that they enforced laws made by an illegitimate government.

After 1994 there can never be an excuse or justification.

Between April last year and March this year, 94 police have died in the line of duty. In the same period 110 families lost a loved one who died at the hands of those they had no personal gripes with, all because they wanted to enforce the law.

Still, a lot of time and effort is spent on blaming police officers or their political bosses for the high number of cops who die in the line of duty.

This blame game also suggests that only badly trained police officers die at the hands of criminals.

If American mafia movies are to be believed, even those who trade in murder are known to have a code that forbids the killing of police officers.

In South Africa we create the impression that police must accept their fate as readily as turkeys must accept theirs at Christmas.

Flawed as they might be, police serve a legitimate state. They are as worthy of public protection as are teachers and nurses in the public service.

We must make it our collective duty to ensure that criminals do not think that they can get away with the moral guilt of killing officers as we heappile opprobrium on yet another lifeless corpse of a police officer.

Public opinion that seeks to blame the police when they fall victims to criminals only serves to deflate the already low morale of the officers.

The same people who criticise police when they die at the hands of criminals will be the first to complain if cops choose not to go to scenes where they might die trying to save the day.

If it ever became justifiable to kill badly trained cops, then we might as well justify the killing of poets for their bad verses, or columnists for their lousy polemics.

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