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The shame of the nation

10 February 2013, 18:12

In the light of what I’ve read today in both letters and comments to letters published, it would seem that although many of us are justifiably disgusted, and horrified, by what is happening in this country nobody has any viable solutions.

Rape, murder, robbery, violent protests and general aggression seem to be the new credo in SA and we as a people need desperately to get beyond this and restore some semblance of credibility to the rainbow nation.

National telephone lines – even to the president – seem not to have worked. In fact I don’t know if they are still in operation but given their low profile I would think not.

Perhaps we need to prioritise all crime, particularly rape, by creating a higher level of awareness in the country. If the government aren’t doing it – merely providing lip service and attending the odd funeral when the country gets very upset – and the police seem incapable, for whatever reason, then perhaps it’s now time for us responsible citizens to get really involved.

For a start, perhaps with the assistance of the opposition parties in parliament, a system could be set up whereby all police stations are forced to have a constantly attended, dedicated telephone for rape reporting. If it’s true that a rape is occurring every 4 minutes then this manpower would not be wasted and the policemen, and women, answering such calls would be the busiest in the force.

Have these numbers then broadly advertised by the media, have them put on milk cartons, on advertising boards, anywhere that they are highly visible.

Broadcast the numbers on TV, as Eishkom do with their electricity warning messages, and get public awareness going.

Perhaps the minister of women and children would care to have her private number made available, or at least a number where she could be reached, and let her become aware of how big the problem is.

Perhaps the president, in his capacity as leader of the moral rejuvenation, would assist by creating a network of numbers dedicated to rape reporting.

Okay, maybe now I’m asking for a bridge too far but I think you get the idea. Let us so badly criminalize, and highlight, the seriousness of the crime that all will be aware of it and that potential perpetrators will realise that they would be caught in such a glare of publicity that it’s not worth it.

Next we would need schools, varsities and colleges to get involved. They would need to highlight to students that it’s a crime of horrific proportions and that anybody caught will be so severely dealt with that their lives will become unbearable.

If necessary - and why not - link this to the AIDS awareness campaign and get clinics involved as well. Make it known that HIV/AIDS and rape are linked and that the one goes hand in hand with the other.

The mayor of New York once famously remarked, when asked why he was putting such a high priority to petty crime, that you have to start somewhere and once people become aware that this is being dealt with more people will become aware that something is being done and therefore that the worse stuff can also be dealt with.

We need to start somewhere and if we make this a national, and high profile, campaign then people will naturally become aware of both petty and serious crimes and hopefully they will begin to take all crime as serious and reportable.

Obviously we would also need the judicial system to get heavy, very heavy in fact, on rape and this too would have an impact. Highlight rape as a crime against humanity – which it is – deal with it accordingly and we will get results.

Lastly, we need all women who suffer from any kind of abuse to report it to the police, no matter how embarrassing and traumatic it is. I know that this will be hard to do, and as traumatic perhaps as the deed itself was, but they are the ones who need to highlight what is being done to them and they are the best ones to do so.

For our part we men can do better than just talk, and complain. We can - and we must - protect our women, all women in fact, with all that we have because they are worthy of our protection and after all, that is the way we were brought up – to love and cherish women, to protect them and if necessary to die for them.

What other purpose do we have in life?

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