Men urged to help end rape

2013-02-07 22:21
(Picture: Sapa)

(Picture: Sapa)

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Johannesburg - Men must help to end rapes such as that of Anene Booysen, of Bredasdorp, in the Western Cape, the African National Congress said on Thursday.

"Rape cannot be a women's issue alone, men also need to play a role in fighting patriarchy in order to achieve the key pillar of true gender equality as defined in the ANC Constitution," said ANC spokesperson Keith Khoza.

"The voice of men needs to be loud and clear and we need real men to join our sisters in the [ANC] Women's League to support the victims of rape."

Khoza said no one should ever suffer the brutality inflicted on Booysen.

The 17-year-old was found by security guards at a construction site in Bredasdorp at the weekend. She had been gang-raped and mutilated, and later died of her injuries in hospital.

Professor Rachel Jewkes, a doctor heading the Women's Research Unit of South Africa's Medical Research Council, said 37% of surveyed men in Gauteng said they had raped a woman or child, according to a study. Seventy-five percent of them first raped a teenager, she told AP.

"It's a social disaster," she said. The number of "men who try to feel better about their past by trying to make out that what they did wasn't serious or wasn't rape is obviously huge and must be a huge obstacle to getting anything done - from police making arrests to decisions in the courtroom by magistrates and so forth".

In a study conducted by Jewkes in 2009, 62% of surveyed boys over age 11 said they believed that forcing someone to have sex was not an act of violence. One-third said girls enjoy being raped.

National crisis

That study found one-quarter of South African women are raped but only one in 25 report it to the police. Of those who were not raped by a partner, one in 13 had never reported the rape, and many had been raped more than once, Jewkes said.

That casts doubt on police statistics showing sexual crimes decreased from 70 514 in 2009 to 64 419 last year. Females make up half of South Africa's population of 50 million.

Official statistics show less than 10% of reported sexual crimes result in a successful prosecution, another reason many are reluctant to report rape.

Studies show nearly 90% of victims are raped by family members, friends or other people they know. Girls are not safe at home or at school, with many reports of teachers having sex with students anxious to get good examination results.

Sisonke Msimang, chairperson of Sonke Gender Justice Network, said that violence against women is now becoming a national crisis.

"The current levels of violence against women in South Africa are a national crisis; typical responses are no longer adequate," she said.

The parliamentary portfolio committee on women, children and people with disabilities said sex crimes in Bredasdorp had drastically increased over a two-year period.

Committee chairperson Dorothy Ramodibe said the number of sex crimes reported in Bredasdorp, in the Southern Cape, had increased between the 2010/2011 and 2011/2012 financial periods.

Quoting police figures, she said the number of murders reported in Bredasdorp increased from four to 11, and that sexual crimes increased from 47 to 60 in the period.

"These alarming statistics point to a dire need for a re-look of the survival and development of the nation's children in a safe environment conducive for their growth," she said.

"The inhumane incident highlights the magnitude of the problem that South Africa is facing regarding rape and sexual related crimes."

Inhumane

The rape has drawn widespread condemnation, including from President Jacob Zuma.

"Impose the harshest sentences on such crimes, as part of a concerted campaign to end this scourge in our society," Zuma said in a statement, describing the crime as "shocking", "cruel", and "inhumane".

"It has no place in our country. We must never allow ourselves to get used to these acts of base criminality to our women and children."

The Democratic Alliance described the attack as one of the most gruesome acts of sexual violence in the province.

"The DA is doing everything it can to support the family of the victim and will continue to do so this, including the arrangement of the funeral next week Saturday," said spokesperson Liza Albrecht.

The Progressive Women's Movement of SA expressed shock at the number of women being raped in the country.

It praised Booysen for identifying one of her attackers before she died in hospital.

Booysen's 22-year-old ex-boyfriend has been arrested in connection with the crime. He appeared in the Bredasdorp Magistrate's Court on Tuesday on charges of rape and murder, and will appear again on Tuesday.

A second man, aged 21, was arrested in Bredasdorp on Wednesday night.

- SAPA
Read more on:    da  |  anc  |  anene booysen
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