Government must now declare a National State of Emergency on rape.
In a country where income inequality is at the pinnacle than in any other country, where poverty and hopelessness make people stage service delivery protests every week, and where violence and organized crime is so rampant, one would imagine that our government has learnt how to deal with a rape crisis such as it did with HIV and Aids.
Every 17 seconds a woman is raped in South Africa. Literally, before you even finish reading this article a woman would have been raped in South Africa. Scary isn’t it?
Perhaps these statistics are not taken seriously by authorities. On average, it is claimed, 1 300 women can expect to be raped in South Africa per day. Therefore, half a million rapes occur in this country per year.
Seemingly, judging by latest media reports, it is the elderly women that are falling victims to this detestable violent crime ever to befall to mankind. Worse of all, they are victimized by the young and the able-bodied in which this generation and the next depend on.
Violent crimes against women in this country have become a rule not an exception. It’s even more disturbing to comprehend that these transgressions are perpetrated by individuals well-known to victims.
According to a 2011 United Nations survey, “in South Africa a woman is killed every six hours by an intimate partner.”
But this dire crisis has little deterred our government to warrant the attention it so precisely deserves.
Some may argue that women issues have now become one of government’s main priorities since the establishment of the women, children and children with disabilities ministry.
But the question remains; how effective has this ministry been in championing and alleviating the social conditions of women in general and victims of rape in particular?
It is a known fact that 99.9% of rape cases in this country are committed by men, against women.
And the fact that of all the prisons population, male inmates are 5 times more than women speaks the truth that something is terribly wrong with men in our society, not women.
I remember as a young boy growing up that we were initiated into scouts’ programmes at school where our survival instincts were put to test.
We were taught how to cook without fire. We were taught how to defend ourselves.
We had our own vegetable gardens at school which would come in handy to some poverty-stricken families.
There were elderly men in our community who ran informal seminars with the youth on what it means to be a man.
Owing to our teachers’ rigid rules, I don’t know what they were teaching the girls in their seminars. But I believe that girls were also taught something about sexuality.
Most importantly, children of my day were taught some kind of responsibility and care for themselves, and for other human beings around them.
When I informed my youngest brother who is in Grade 12 about how we grew up, he asked me, “what is a scout?”
Now this pseudo-belief that women are the society’s most vulnerable group is not only misleading but untrue.
It is men who are most psychosocially disempowered. And by implication, it is men who are more hazardous to society.
It seems that all the frustration and rejection felt by men is taken out on women. Hence there is so much domestic violence against women at the hands of men.
But instead of treating the root cause of the problem, we are more concerned with the by-product.
Why is it necessary to have this ministry headed by Lulu Xingwana which caters for the needs of one section of society and leaves the other?
Why is it that there is no portfolio for men, violence and male-esteem management?
There is so much that can be achieved just by nurturing responsible and self-respecting young men in this country.
Today’s youth lack capable and admirable leaders they can look up to. It seems to be of no use to promise the youth a glorious future when we do not even cultivate them to be humble individuals in the first place.
If this country continues on this trajectory of treating the outcomes of a deep-rooted societal problem instead of restoring the much needed self-respect among our young men, our women will continue falling victims of any cruel intentions an uncouth masculine mind can conjure up.
- Sphelele ‘DS’ Dludla
Honours student at the Discovery Centre for Health Journalism, Rhodes University