Rising up against rape in South Africa

2013-02-12 07:20

Lauren Hess

The brutal rape and murder of 17-year-old Anene Booysen in the Western Cape left South Africans not only outraged but wondering how to properly respond to the country’s rape crisis.

Last week, as the story of Anene’s last hours grabbed the nation’s attention, the top two trending topics on Twitter were “Stop Rape” and “Say No 2 Rape”.

Some radio stations ran a campaign to signal each time a woman was being raped somewhere in the country (according to statistics) with a beep. Radio presenters offered rape and sexual abuse survivors the opportunity to share their stories.

It seemed as if South Africa had finally started having a much-needed conversation.

But the outcry was met with something of a backlash from others. Pierre de Vos wrote a blog stating why he wouldn’t be “joining the chorus of voices protesting against rape”.

Many felt that people were merely paying lip service to the anti-rape cause and felt that nothing tangible was being done. In fact, by Monday this week, the rape hashtags had disappeared from the top trending topics in the country.

So how do we make a real difference against women and children abuse?

One possible answer? One Billion Rising.

One Billion Rising is a bold, positive global movement that aims to address violence against women and children.
It was started almost a year ago by US activist and Vagina Monologues playwright Eve Ensler.

The campaign takes its name from statistics which show that one billion people, or one in three women, will be raped or beaten in her lifetime.

Feminist and activist, Gillian Schutte, started the largely under-reported South African movement in July 2012.

Numerous events have taken place since then and various South African public figures and NGOs such as Sonke Gender Justice Network have joined the campaign.

But OBR wants its big day to be on 14 February 2013 - the day of the opening of Parliament and the State of the Nation speech - when it wants followers to “walk out, dance, rise up, and demand an end to violence against women”.
Hollywood celebrities including Kerry Washington, Anne Hathaway, Dylan McDermott and Robert Redford have joined the movement.
Activities have been planned for rural areas, towns and cities around the country, including Marikana, Cape Town, Durban, Grahamstown and the main event at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg.

Hopefully the violence suffered by Anene won’t be in vain. Hopefully South Africans will take part.

“People should go apeshit in the streets,” Schutte says.

To find out more about One Billion Rising South Africa and what events they have planned, visit the Facebook page or follow them on Twitter.

- Follow Lauren on Twitter

Send your comments to Lauren

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.


  • pkmodelafe - 2013-02-12 08:04

    For the life of me, i can't imagine what would teach a man in his formative years and deep into his adult life that in life there is acceptable and unacceptable behaviors other than punishing them for all bad behavior and rewarding them for good behavior from that early age. The high rates of rape these days are, according to me, a direct result of failed parenting. The natural reaction of parents is tho be defensive when they hear the phrase "failed parenting". This phrase doesn't necessarily mean that the parents taught their kids bad behavior. No parent would knowingly do this, i surmise. As we entered the information age, parents failed to respond to the new challenges parenting faced. The information that is easily accessible to kids these days requires that a parent proactively counters it such that by the time the child accesses it, they know what is good and bad info. Those who have had discussions with their kids have done so very late. Children have different learning capabilities (some are slow than others) but they have the same learning capacities (they all can learn the same amount of life principles). This poor girl shouldnt have been out there in the night exposed to such brutality. The parent should have ensured this. These young boys should not have been out there in the night, the parents should have ensured it. These young boys should never have entertained the idea of raping a woman. They should have known its bad behavior. Drugs + life = death

      linda.drummond.503 - 2013-02-12 10:54

      I absolutely agree with what you say, pkmodelafe. Unfortunately, in this day and age there are far too many children who have no parents or suitable role models. So to my mind it's a bigger problem than "failed parenting." Our society has a great number of issues to deal with and I sometimes wonder if we're up to the task. Reading the comments on this site I see far too much finger pointing and not enough constructive comment. Is punishing the perpetrators of these despicable crimes enough to solve the problem?

  • robi.thenga - 2013-02-12 11:09

    A person's life is supposed to be priceless; but, we live within a system that says you can be able to take life and when found guilty be made to pay by simply relocating and live somewhere in isolation from the public for a predetermined number of years or so-called life, this is the world where you may still have a second chance, since you have an opportunity to apply for parole. Imprisonment has become more like grounding a kid in his room all day where he has his play station, cellphone with active mixit and a laptop with webcam. However, it is also such that a kid has been raised in anger as he watched his dad batters his mum and then he grows old enough he responds negatively to his anger and commit petty crime; gets arrested and only to be made more angry in prison due to an anti-rehabilitation conditions inside; that's the creation of a monster right there. To stop the behaviour of a rapist needs a complete overhaul of the justice system, starting from service delivery; parenting; review of the criminal justice system and introducing the one that achieves results with main focus on rehabilitation and crime prevention in prison not only in public. India (public and government)responded very favourably to the gang-rape incident and I doubt if it will be repeated any time soon; who wants to face death penalty. Meanwhile, we only protest against service delivery, e-tolls and salary increases; never against failing criminal justice and politics...

      TaniaSS - 2013-02-13 00:08

      So well said. Prison must be something to fear - not a release from your daily troubles. We must realise that there are people walking this Earth who have no interest in rehabilitation - too much damage has been done. How do we stop the damage? By not allowing thos who have committed terrible crimes against humanity to be fathers of the next generation. Chemical castration, removal of the organ, anything that can save the next generation of women and babies from such torture. Allowing sex workers to be tax-paying citizens, and protecting them as the Law allows in our Country, instead of being used and abused by their "Johns". A Nationwide distribution to all vulnerable women and children of the "anti-rape" device invented by an SA woman. I have started today: I spoke to my husbands' team about rape, what happened to Anene, how precious your womb is, why it is not a commodity to be traded for a free drink, or a lift home. The men were laughing at first, but they sobered up as I spoke. I asked everyone if they knew someone who was raped, and they all put up their arms. I sensed that more than most were victims of rape. I asked if anyone, ever, explained to them what rape was within their Community. Not in Bloza, or Kwanobuhle, or at school. Not their parents or grandparents. I will make it my calling in Anene's name, and in the name of Phumeza Mbewu - raped and killed by three men in Kwanobuhle 3 months ago We cannot rely on Government. We are better off doing it for ourselves.

  • nick.kuhlenthal - 2013-02-13 07:25

    Is rape not a symptom of other problems? Degraded family units, poverty and the like ... If that is the case we can not stop rape by merely protesting against it or worse still, expecting the government to do something. Something like what anyway? We have to solve the causes!!!

  • true.feminists - 2013-02-13 13:44

    The widespread public display of female nudity, and exhibitionism, has brought out the animal instincts in some men, and, with that, has come a rise in the number of rapes, and cases of child molesting, and woman are reaping the consequences of what they have been sowing. Unfortunately, innocent children are also suffering. The reason; that there has been a rise, in the number of cases of child-molesting; is that little girls are the only ones left who are actually feminine, in contrast to man-like women’s libbers. As the situation worsens; with girls becoming affected by liberation, at an ever-increasingly younger age; so the ages at which they get molested becomes younger, as the rapist is forced to look for femininity in a younger age-group. In the rapist’s tormented (by Satan) mentality, he is also re-asserting his lost masculinity, to himself; although it is only very temporarily; and even a staunch “women’s libber” loses her manliness, in a rape-situation, and becomes frightened and submissive, and therefore more feminine; in a twisted mental power-struggle. My rape story :

  • pages:
  • 1