Rape jokes in the rape capital of the world

2014-08-27 03:32

It begins as something that seems benign, a throw away comment, a joke whether in private around dining tables with “like minded” people. It is when one interrogates what these seemingly meaningless words actually mean. There are many jokes that are splurged on social media – if you search the word “rape” you may find more of this humourless humour than the fight to stop the war and entitlement on women’s bodies.

This tweet, without even having to look too closely is an expression of entitlement and is a double edged sword in that it also belies that rape is the fault of the victim and that a victim should not be helped if, in this case, was not interested in the said guy.

Our plight as women is rarely heard, or taken as seriously as it should, because more often than not, there are plenty men AND women who make our experiences a joke, as in the case of that tweet. We are rarely taken seriously and it's problematic to our fight because it causes a scenario where certain things have become acceptable – this is the result of a society that fervently celebrates rape culture. We are the rape capital of the world – this is an undisputed fact, yet we seem numb to the effects of perpetuating rape culture, enforcing that blame or fault lies with the victim and the fact that women’s bodies are not the property of men. Being in the highest rank of rape statistics means that no female - woman nor child can expect safe in our society. There are surveys where men have admitted to raping; fathers, cousins, uncles and brothers, even the police is some case, rape those that they are meant to protect.

Every single day, I leave my home in fear of what could happen. Luckily I have not been violated and I am grateful every day for this, however, the fear is always there. The fear that one day someone will feel entitled to my body. It is a fear that something could happen to my mother, now that my father is gone. It is the fear that we won’t know when it may happen – in our country, it is getting to a point where we are lucky if we are not part of the one in four and sadly there is a certain inevitability of rape that we live in fear of. You cannot sit around a table with a group without a single person there not knowing someone who has been violated, or being someone who is a survivor. That is a lot of people who are triggered by mindless tweets and words, which are supposedly not meant to harm but rather to entertain.

There are women who don't even feel safe in the company of their relatives because of previous encounters with them. We have had 45000 rapes in August alone (reported cases) - and those are the reported cases, in 12 months there could have been 540 000 rapes and to some that is a joke. In the grander scheme of things, we look at that number in a population of 26,6 million females, and it seems like something so small, but there is a virus that runs rampant in our society that has contributed largely to women fearing walking outside their own homes. Even when we are in our homes, we have to live in fear.

Twitter has given us a mere insight into what people think in the privacy of their own minds, and what they find acceptable to talk about. To them, they login and log out because it can't possibly be real, it is often said “it’s just twitter”; yet here we are, outraged at a tweet, why? It is because this is a serious issue in our country. It is NOT a joke. The views posted on social networking sites are terrifying because many think that it’s just a joke or just thoughts. Many people hide behind anonymity. You get to see what people are really thinking because they believe there are no real consequences for the things they tweet. We see the things that people think.

 

It's not the fact that people joke about things like this that gets me; it's the fact that I am becoming so quickly desensitised to it and almost feel nothing when I read something like that. We have become numb to rape and this is how we see more and more of these rape jokes. It could also be that people are insensitive. It could also be that our boys are raised to think of women as possessions. It could be that our police think it is a woman’s responsibility to not be raped as opposed to teaching people not to rape. I question the things we are teaching our men, how we're raising men to believe that in the rape capital of the world it is okay to joke about rape.

  I cannot imagine being a rape victim and having to find the courage after my experience to go to a police station and being told that I deserve to be raped and attacked by men simply because I chose to wear something that “provoked him”. Our society allows way too many men to get away with this behaviour and therein lies the problem. We allow men to not take accountability. We do not enforce repercussions, and there’s leniency that I have not been able to understand – for example the man whose sentence for raping an 11 year old child because the judge found that she may have been consenting; which goes completely against the meaning of consent. To begin, consent cannot be given by a child, someone who is drunk, someone who is asleep and various other manner of positive affirmation to having intercourse.   We, as women shouldn't have to fear menWe need to begin to change these perceptions of entitlement and ownership. We need to stand together and change the narrative of rape culture. We need to call out the jokes and problematic comments. We need to teach our girls that they do not deserve to be raped and it is not their fault.  While we teach our boys not to rape, we also teach what consent is.  I may not have the answers, but I hope to give insight to someone who may rethink their throw away comment under the guise of it being benign. Rape is not a joke.

Please South Africa, let’s do something about this. It’s enough now.

You can follow me on twitter: @LeratoMannya

*** Thanks to Akona Ndungane for her contribution to this post.

Blog: http://isaidno.co.za/wp/  ***

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