Concerted effort needed to turn the tide against rape in SA
NOT a single day goes by without rape being mentioned in the media.
Almost every day we wake up to a story about the violation of the most vulnerable groups.
You turn on the television or the radio and almost all the bulletins carry a new, veritable rape story. Rape.co.za estimates that women born in South Africa have more chance of being raped than learning how to read.
A survey mentioned on this site reports that out of 1500 Soweto schoolchildren interviewed, a quarter of boys think "jackrolling" (gang rape) is "fun".
The devastating statistics also show that a quarter of SA men who took part in a survey by the Medical Research Council admitted to raping someone. More than half a million rapes are committed every year in South Africa.
A study by Interpol, the international police agency, shows that South Africa has the highest rate of rape in the world. According to its findings, a woman is raped every 17 seconds.
The highest increase in attacks has been against children under seven. Presumably this is largely due to the myth that intercourse with a virgin will cure a man of HIV or Aids.
The epidemic makes one wonder what the world has turned into. What makes matters worse is the fact that, in most cases, the victims are raped by people they know, not strangers.
Perpetrators even prey on mentally handicapped victims. Recently a young, mentally challenged girl was gang-raped by a group of youths who took video footage of the heinous deed, which went viral on electronic media.
Yet another mentally and physically handicapped young lady was raped, assaulted, stripped naked and thrown on to a railway line in an attempt to mask the brutish act as suicide.
What kind of person commits such a monstrous act? Gone are the days when people used to seek refuge in churches - a 10-year-old girl was reportedly sexually assaulted by a priest in Soweto. Rapists also hide behind the cloth .
In February, the Department of Community Safety saw over 60 clergymen and women from different denominations affirming that they will tackle sexual violence head on, particularly if the perpetrator is one of their own.
The department, together with the faith-based sector, agrees that there is a need for a paradigm shift, including not relying only on cases presented to the police. All parties involved agreed that the clergy must assist in identifying victims within their congregation, and refer these to accommodation and aftercare facilities while sourcing victim empowerment services such as Ikhaya Lethemba.
Ikhaya Lethemba is the department's facility mandated to offer psychological, medical and legal assistance to victims of abuse, especially women and children. These instances of viciousness beg the question: What has happened to ubuntu? The moral decay in our society is unbearable. Is there something wrong with the upbringing of boys in our homes and communities?
Could this be a manifestation of patriarchy? Is this how men exercise and abuse power over the vulnerable and powerless?
Women and children should not live in fear of paedophiles and rapists, not when we were able overcome monsters such as apartheid. Let's all hold hands and put an end to this evil rampage that seeks to destroy our nation.
With Child Protection Week around the corner, what role are you playing to ensure that our children live free from abuse, especially sexual molestation?
Mazibuko is the MEC for community safety in Gauteng