Chris Moerdyk

'Stop rape,' we say, but do rapists hear?

2013-03-04 08:13

Chris Moerdyk

Isn't it great that South Africa is united in shouting "Stop Rape"?

Everyone from the president to the mass media; just about every representative body in society, labour unions, churches, children and communities - the clamour against rape has been loud and clear, militant and angry.

But, are the rapists listening? Can rapists hear?

Or, are they like the people who cause mayhem on our roads by driving drunk and recklessly in spite of massive media campaigns, threats of zero tolerance by the authorities and being named and shamed in newspapers?

It is wonderful to see so many people and organisations coming together to make their voices heard about the scourge of rape in this country.

But, to be honest, while there is a huge amount of noise being made about the problem, I am not seeing any sort of solution coming out of it all.

Absurd voices

I get the feeling that we are resorting to a habit that we as a nation have developed recently and that is to complain to each other about something, hear government continually "addressing issues," holding incessant talkshops, making lots of speeches, but not actually rolling their sleeves up and getting something done.

What worries me is that the louder our voices get the more absurd they become and eventually everyone gets tired of hearing about it - as they have done with the HIV/Aids pandemic - and it all just disappears from the front pages of newspapers and political agendas. We all get used to it and live with it.

An example of this absurdity was the knee-jerk, unthinking and singularly stupid remarks made by one of our Cabinet ministers on Australian television about the negative effects of Calvinist teaching on young Afrikaans men.

We have also heard talk of young white guys playing rugby and that this somehow translates into becoming bullies and women abusers. 

Frankly, I am appalled at seeing a serious social problem being turned into a racist political game of one-upmanship.

What I want to see is somebody doing practical research into the problem of rape. Heaven knows, there must be a lot of rapists languishing in our jails. Has anyone had a look at who they are, where they came from, what their upbringing was like, their communities, their cultural heritage?

And instead of ministers making stupid remarks about Calvinism, why don't they put their efforts into properly researching how many Afrikaans kids have actually turned out to be rapists and women abusers. How many rugby players have been convicted of rape or spousal abuse?

Action needed

Why don't they do some research into the diverse cultures that we have in South Africa, particularly those that are patriarchal? Are there any cultural groups that perhaps do not see the subjugation of women, for example, as abuse but rather a form of entitlement?

We need to find out what role unemployment and poverty plays. We need to find out what role drugs and drinking plays. Right now, I am pretty certain we know nothing at all about what drives men to rape.

I am worried that all the shouting, placard-waving, media campaigning and speechifying by politicians is not going to bring down the incidence of rape and abuse.

Because, we really don't know to whom we are talking. We don't know who the potential rapists are.

And frankly, I am pretty certain they are not listening anyway.

Action is required not words. Action that is based on fact and not guesswork.     

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