Groping’s not okay

2014-05-14 10:00

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Bonang’s alleged groping highlights a few depressing issues, writes Gugulethu Mhlungu

Last weekend news broke that goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune had allegedly groped media personality Bonang Matheba in a Johannesburg club.

Bonang was reported to still be waiting for an apology from Khune. The incident has yet to become a criminal matter, but the story highlighted some of the depressing issues around violence against women.

Harassment of women in South Africa is pervasive. This is often downplayed as “harmless” and happens in full view of other people. Women are called “too serious” or “dramatic” when they speak out because such common harassment is regarded as “okay”.

One of the most disturbing sentiments repeated on various online platforms was that Bonang had no grounds to be offended because she’s dating a man who allegedly physically abused her in the past. Wait, what? Women do not “lose” the right to be aggrieved by harassment. Ever.

If Khune did touch her inappropriately, Bonang need not qualify why she felt violated or angered. The right to dignity is not a decreasing points system.

Similarly, often the sentiment is that women are falsely accusing men of violence to “destroy” them. False rape accusation sits well below 5% of all reported cases, but false accusations are almost always mentioned when a sexual assault is reported.

Also ignored is the difficulty experienced once cases of any kind of violence are reported. Women are harassed and violated daily. That society has become okay with it doesn’t make it less violent.

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