‘I’m afraid for myself, my sisters, my child’

2010-11-13 14:59

As a keen observer of South African society and its ­gender relations I have come to this conclusion: South Africa hates women.

We might not be anywhere near China – where having a girl child is actively discouraged and women in rural areas still drown their newborn daughters because they will become “a burden” in the future – but I’m becoming very, very frightened for myself, my sisters, nieces and daughter.

In fact, I’m beginning to seriously consider my sister’s offer to look after my daughter in her adopted country of Canada.

The bright ­beacon of hope I hold high and proud about our beloved country is slowly diminishing, and I catch myself ­empathising with those who have fled South Africa because they feel unsafe.

I think I’m becoming one of the “unpatriotics” who in the past I viewed with derision.

The events this week that have been playing out on television channels, newspapers and courts have put me on edge.

The alleged rape of the 15-year-old Jules High school pupil in Joburg has become a social network topic with everyone from feminists and socialites to social commentators and curious bystanders adding their five cents worth to comment boxes.

Most people have been expressing righteous indignation – just like they did with the Jub Jub case.

Before this, some of us were still reeling from the news that a Joburg deputy school principal’s wife had committed suicide after allegations surfaced that he had sexually assaulted schoolgirls.

On Thursday, the Sowetan newspaper’s front page screamed “Girl (11) raped” and told of how her school’s caretaker had been ­arrested.

The days of your child being looked after by the community have become extinct.

The times when teachers were the most trusted people after parents and priests don’t exist any more.

And parents these days can’t even fully trust family members not to feel up their children while baby­sitting.

It’s interesting how the moral ­fabric of our country has become so similar to our old World Cup flags – torn to shreds, filthy and too lame to fly high any more.

But at least with polyester you know you can ­remove the stain with soap and stitch things back together again.

With us, however, it seems we are on a one-way trip to damnation.

I know that such things – the rape of our moral fibre – have been happening for a long time.

But I find it telling that such contemptuous disregard for women has become more pronounced with the sexual ?mores of the new father of our land.

I’ve heard young boys giving President Jacob Zuma “props ­because he’s the man” and young girls talking about how they wouldn’t mind being the second or third wife because “it’s accepted these days as long as the guy’s rich”.

What does it say about the future of South Africa when all that its young citizens aim for are harems and instant riches?

Listening to other pupils of Jules High being interviewed by a news channel recently, my heart sank even further at the complete lack of sympathy these kids had for the alleged rape victim – and they were mostly other girls.

The fact is, this 15-year-old will forever be branded “the rape girl”.

Boys will call her isifebe if she brushes off their advances, other girls will hurl insults at her as she walks down the street and gossip about how “she had it coming, drinking with boys” and society as a whole will ostracise her instead of embracing her.

My mother’s generation had a sense of community and sisterhood.

The South Africa I’m living in now is populated by a majority that is fearful, spiteful, insecure and eager to be part of the flock – even if it means being corrupt and heartless.

I doubt the teenage boys accused of robbing this young girl of a carefree future feel guilty about it.

They are internet stars now; rock stars who had the entire school population – including teachers, it’s said – practically patting them on the back by viewing and being amused at the disgusting footage.

I say it again: South Africa hates women.

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