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Apparently even child rape victims to blame

09 August 2013, 12:02
A 7 year old boy and a 4 month old baby girl are raped and already blame is put upon the other victims of this horrific crime - the parents.

The comments made by the general public who lament South Africa's "sick society" in the wake of such crimes don't seem to realise that they themselves are just as guilty of creating another aspect of a sick society, namely that of racism through stereotyping.

To me, it is sickening to see the parents being accused of being too drunk to prevent the kidnap and rape of the children from their home when the only "crime" the parents have really committed is to be poor, coloured and living in a farming community. It is widely known that alcoholism is a huge problem in the Cape's farming communities but generalising that it is the case in every single home in those communities causes problems in itself. 

Commentators are seen calling for the parents to stand trial for allowing this crime to happen, as if having to live for the rest of your life knowing you couldn't protect your child from a horrific crime wasn't punishment enough for them? Whether the parents were drunk or not is actually besides the point, as it takes focus away from the actual cause of the crime itself - The Rapist. 

This is not to mention the fact that there are plenty of other types of cases that occur on a daily basis where intruders break into homes while the residents sleep and manage to either steal valuables or wake the residents with guns held to their heads. Yet we don't see similar conclusions being drawn with regards to why those people didn't wake up and become aware of the intruders. The sobriety of the middle and upper classes seems somehow meaningless, as if they are more deserving of the role of victim.

I work regularly with women from diverse backgrounds who are becoming mothers either for the first time, or even the 5th or 6th time. I usually meet them in the throes of labour on crowded government hospital maternity wards, as I help guide them through each contraction, offering them sips of water and mopping sweat from their brows in between. I'm also there as that mother lifts that baby she's just worked so hard for into her arms and kisses him or her for the first time. I see the future South African society as they take their first breaths - and I feel honoured to do so.

I can honestly say that the love a mother has for her child is there, whether she comes from wealthy home in the Constantia Hills or the smallest shack in Khayelitsha township. I've seen it with my own eyes on an almost daily basis. That mother hurts the same, and feels the same sadness, when she hasn't been able to protect her child.

As with the commentators on issues such as rape, I see the same kind of stereotyping from colleagues working in maternity healthcare. When a woman cries out in pain, a colleague might chastise her to be silent because she "enjoyed putting the baby in there in the first place" so she needs to pay the price for this. 
The implication is that the mother is essentially seen as a slut who couldn't keep her legs together, whether the pregnancy is a result of a rape or she's a married woman who wanted to start a family. The comments are often made based on the colour or the woman's skin, or the community she is from - even when the care provider is from the same community. Clearly this is a sickness that we all have, even when it comes to the sections of our society that we most closely identify with.

The only real sickness we have in our society is perpetuating stereotypes and not treating each other with the same compassion as we would like to be treated. The parents of the children who were raped deserve the same compassion as the immediate victims, not our judgement, stereotyping and blame. They feel just the same as you would if it was your child who was raped, it's just their circumstances that are different and they don't have the same financial ability to get the help they need to deal with such a tragedy. 

So go and hug your children tight, and try and look at those less fortunate not as the stereotype but as a fellow parent trying to do the best they can for their children. 

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