Enough is enough already!
I am a very proud South African. I think we have a beautiful country, with wide open spaces and nature scenes that will take your breath away. Yes, we have our issues in this country, most of them still an overhang from exclusionary political policies and governments in the past. But, contrary to lots of people’s predictions, we survived an almost catastrophic situation and today, we have a democratically elected government and some of the most advanced constitutional rights in the world. Education, unemployment and social imbalances are some of the main issues that come to mind, and the impact that these issues have on levels of crime, etc. All these issues are constantly being debated in the media, and as parents, we generally give our kids the best education that our money can buy. And we build houses with high fences, alarm systems, and keep a wary eye out for criminals.
But today I hang my head in shame. An incident in the past week has forced the country to face an issue that is often swept under the carpet and ignored by the masses. And as a country we should be embarrassed.
Last week Friday evening a 17-year old teenager from Bredasdorp in the Western Cape went to a pub, about six blocks from where she stayed with her foster mother. Her foster mother warned her not to stay out too late, and gave her a curfew of 01h00. At 05h00 her mom was called out by the neighbours when a girl was discovered brutally gang-raped and savagely mutilated. Her worst fears came true when she recognised her daughter’s shoes protruding from the blanket.
The girl later died in hospital, but not before she named at least one of the attackers, a friend. The girl was injured so badly that hospital staff had to receive trauma counselling. The outcry has been widespread, and reported widely, even in overseas media and yesterda, a third attacker was arrested and I wish for the sake of her parents and loved ones that the ordeal is dealt with swiftly and that the attackers get the maximum sentences and rot in jail.
However, the whole gruesome issue has highlighted rape and violence against women in this country. Primedia, through its local radio stations launched a campaign called #STOPRAPE, quoting statistics that a woman in this country is raped every 4 minutes and it is estimated that only about one in every nine rapes are being reported. To emphasize this, they sounded a beep every four minutes throughout the whole day. Chilling. The response was overwhelming. People calling in, sharing their stories, offering help.
The stats are indeed shocking and has given the country the dubious title of the ‘Rape Capital of the World’. Horrific stories about women being further traumatised when they report rapes, the long and drawn out court battles, police’s reluctance to investigate the crimes thoroughly, and criminals being set free after years due to insufficient evidence are abound.
I am ashamed that this is taking place in the country that I love. I am ashamed that people turn a blind eye to this travesty of justice and that we don’t seem to be able to protect our kids and woman from these inhumane deeds.
So, for what little it is worth, I am throwing my voice in with the countrywide outcry and am saying STOP.
It is time that we face this issue head on. The time has come for some serious debates about how we stop the widespread violence against our women. The time has come for swift action by the authorities and enforcement of our legal rights enshrined in our constitution. We need to make it clear for once and for all that we will not tolerate this behaviour and that we will punish these crimes with the harshest sentences applicable.
Today, my heart goes out to a mother who had to witness this brutal end to her daughter’s life and hope that she finds peace one day.
We have a responsibility towards our kids and women. And as parents we have a responsibility. One of the many tweets on #Stoprape yesterday was this one:
Instead of teaching our daughters how to avoid getting raped, we should be teaching our sons not to rape.
For me, that is the crux of this. We need to show each and every man or son out there that we are disgusted by this, that it is not acceptable and that society will not tolerate it.
On the way home yesterday, I saw my daughter’s BBM status update and tears welled up in my eyes.
Enough is enough already!
Let us show the world that we care. Let us show the world that we can make a difference.
Let’s make the people of this country proud again.