Our country is a mess

We have watched and listened; we express shock and disgust; we chat about it whilst getting our morning coffee at the office, or at our dinner table.

Is it new for us South Africans?

Has it happened before?

Is rape, killings and abuse of women and children an epidemic in South Africa?

Wave after wave of stories, from toddlers to teens, bodies violated and mutilated, innocence lost, lives cut short, left to die alone. We hear it so often that we have become indifferent.

Our children are definitely not save anywhere.

Current headlines, the death of two girls, aged two and three, found dead in a toilet cubicle in Diepsloot. This has once again sent shockwaves across society. It’s a major news story, yet nothing changes except the names of the victims.

The deaths are merely a statistic.

All we do is shake our heads in disbelief and shock. Yet for family and friends, these were 2 innocent beautiful little girls, whose lives hadn’t truly begun yet it’s over - Just as it will be over for most of us, until the next shocking story.  

Have we as society become accepting of this scourge in our country or are we helpless and clueless on how to assist in stopping it. I think majority of South Africans are vulnerable; if government and law enforcement cannot bring it under control, how can average civilians step in.

There are only so many marches, Black Fridays, petitions etc. which citizens can get involved in.

Have we as South Africans lost hope? Hence we have just accepted it as the way it is or can we still do something about it?

The rate of sexual violence in South Africa is the highest in the world. South Africa has some of the highest incidences of child and infant rape globally.

Estimates say that a rape occurs every 4 minutes in our country. It’s estimated that one in three children will be raped before they turn 18.  In fact, various media reports last year stated that Interpol named South Africa as the world’s rape capital, and said women were more likely to be raped than educated.

A 2009 Medical Research Council study found that one in four South African men admitted to raping a woman.

Rape is not always reported, less than 10% is actually reported which means the perpetrator has a great chance of getting away with the crime. The situation seems hopeless and we just cannot fathom how this happens over and over again, and each story get worse.

Our crime statistics show us that we are terrible at protecting our children. We have a deep social problem in society.

After the death of 17-year-old Anene Booysen, who was gang raped, mutilated and left for dead.

Yale World Fellow, Sisonke Msimang from Sonke Gender Justice Network expressed the emotions many South Africans felt that day: “I will cry, as I have been already this morning. And maybe, I will begin to feel my way out of the lurching, heavy knowing after I have spoken with others.”

“With the mothers and the sisters, the brothers and fathers – those like me, who have girls…Anene was raped and mutilated because she was a girl. It was her vagina and her breasts that they wanted to destroy. It was her walk and her talk. It was her girl-ness.”

“These parts of her were broken and sliced and pulled apart, not by monsters, but by friends. Each of her ten fingers were broken.”

How can we say we Proudly South African, when the rest of the world views us as the rape capital of the world?
It’s a gender issue; boys learn how to act, and re-act towards women from what they witness.

Men should start setting examples to younger boys. Children don’t learn from what you tell them, they learn from watching ones example. Protecting South Africa's children is a shared national responsibility.

Women should speak out louder against abuse, they should also educate their sons when they witness playground violence, boys should be educated that it is not good to treat girls in a violent manner.

Our country does have strong laws in place however it seems that it’s not acted upon. The sooner women have faith in the system, and don’t feel as if they have done something wrong; there will be a stronger force against this terrible crime.

We; South Africans need to do some soul-searching over the high level of rapes perpetrated against women and children.

No woman should have to live in fear of violence. No man should think it acceptable to perpetrate violence against women. No child should grow up in a home where violence is an everyday occurrence.

“Violence against women is not only a human rights violation, it is also a brutal manifestation of wider discrimination against women, which is to be understood against the background of subordination of women within the patriarchal system that still exists in South Africa…"

"South Africa’s Constitutional Court has emphasised that there is an obligation on the State to protect women against violence”, says UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Justice, Navi Pillay.

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