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Percy_Makholwa
 
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Rape is a message crime

27 June 2014, 17:30
I don’t know what I would do if I had to meet a man who had or would have attempted to ravage a loved one- the thought of rape against those I love is so dis-empowering and the rage felt within is actually more out of feeling ill prepared to deal with rape as opposed to anything else. 

The subject is always sensitive for me and it seems inevitable that one would have to deal with it since South Africa is listed as one of the countries with high rape incidences.  What is difficult for me is that a raped partner and relative would have been violated to level that isolates and insulates them, leaving them vulnerable and unprotected in part; and that the professed love and adoration toward the victim by a family would at that horrible moment be inadequate a reason to halt the act and encourage the perpetrator to desist from the brutality- this is difficult in part also. 

Admittedly, I write as one who would feel disrespected and dis-honoured if my child, wife, sister or friend were invaded and ravaged by another man. My ego would seek retribution not only for the victim but mostly for my having been made a failure in their protection.  

Indeed the ardent feminists and human rights activists would question the motive for my difficulty because rape emanates from as a equal a feeling, save that this corrupting vice is a public foe.  I accept frailty in the argument on ego, but I beg the indulgence of my reader in this cathartic piece.  Women are the embodiment of life the world over- starting from my mother and grandmother; these have nursed and taught me survival; then comes my nursery school teachers who will always be beautiful and the most loving people in my life.  

The lady friends and partners some of whom I no longer have cordial affair with presently- but they taught me love, patience, confidence and demanded maturity on issues of life. Then there are the special ladies whom have inspired thoughts of marriage. At the centre of all of these relationships is my happiness, their investment in my growth, their friendship and their care The above is a personal reflection, there is then  the pressing societal reflection that derives from association- when someone speaks of Percy’s sister, friend, mother, wife, grandmother- there is an element responsibility, whereat I am responsible for their safety.  

Again, the personal and societal reflection is similar to the pathology of molesters and murderers, because some research says that there is an element of desperate dependency and possession that makes it right to the offender to kill, take what they want and hurt and this seems a patriarchal societal norm- which is very wrong. 

I certainly hope that my reader can see that my laypersons limited expressiveness on this issue is actually not coming from the same place, because I think that the body of a woman is primarily hers (she is sovereign over it) and that secondarily, it is sacred to her family including the husband, parents and children. In this regard,  I have a difficulty with the aggressive entitlement of some males on the body of a woman  and the fact that retribution  is very limited against offense, this may sound wimpy but if we pay taxes for policing and justice against offenders; and we additionally take security measures to protect women, but at the end we are still left vulnerable then our only reprieve is savage revenge. 

Crime in South Africa is brutal and  the tabloids; including some of the interest group sites on the internet show grievous harm against unarmed victims,  and women- this is actually a blight on our society.I don’t want to present rape a unique crime to South Africa because that would not be true but because I am citizen of this country it concerns me, that rape is a reality.  With regards comparing South Africa the reader would recall Asia where a medical student was gang raped. 

The point is, there isn’t really enough one could do to protect their family and ensure that their 100% secure in our country presently.  This is especially problematic since civilized nations believe in the rule of law- that says we don’t take the law into our hands.  Civilized Nations assume that the heavy machinery of the state can execute the job of protection and prosecution effectively and mete out appropriate sentencing.  

Coming to South Africa, it is worrying that there are women who do not report their cases to police, as a sign of no confidence on the criminal justice system and thus, there are offenders who are sited to be walking about.  The trauma seems less when one is detached until the crime is committed against someone who is closer to you.  The option in South Africa is at worst a regress to mob justice, and to savagery that is also against the law, this requires that one form defense communities that can deal blows against offenders and the communities they affiliate in.

This is a savage, backward and ghastly resort that means that we are perpetual victims that are not regulated by basic rules and principles of sanity. The next option, at best the solution is a more vigorous and effective criminal justice system that categorizes and effectively punishes crimes. The above brings me to how I think we should see rape.  I think rape should be seen as a both a message and a self exalting crime.

The message in rape is: I have the power now to do what I have morbidly imagined as either revenge and or satisfying a fantasy.  

It alludes me whether the message is intended for the victim or for people who may sympathize or take notice of the state of the victim, but the message is clearly there.  The law is the judge and regulator of human relations in civilized societies.  The law should then answer not only when power is misappropriated but should actually state to the victim that society is should respect your sovereignty over your body- regardless of what gender you are and what you wear!  

The law should demand that the misappropriation and misdirection of power needs to be challenged, stopped and punished by society.  This is what the aggrieved parties should hold on to and not have to imagine ways to inflict pain for pain, insult for insult, and violation for violation.  

Thirdly the law should send a louder message that power misused in modern society will attract retributive justice.  I don’t think that restorative justice is appropriate in the case of rape, precisely because it is related to distorted thinking that is anti-social.    With regards self exaltation by a heinous act such as rape,  if the pathology of the offender leads them to enact such evil because of an inferiority complex, then society and the law should consider that we all are dealing with insecurities and are in a process of self actualizing and therefore if insecurities of offenders seek to make them exempt unnecessarily then the resultant actions should be deemed crimes against humanity.  

If this re-look at rape is added to our law and society- then we are on our way to a civilized society that effectively deals with inappropriate messages and exaltation.   Once we put all rape clearly in this category then the punishment cannot be negligible and poor policing cannot be overlooked, then perhaps we could even frown at women who don’t report or even retract cases against offenders-then we can proudly say, this is my South Africa, a country with the rule of law!!!  

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