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Open letter to South Africa’s students‚ universities and government‚ represented by Minister in the .


By unknown | Aug 07, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

IT IS Women's Month and I am angry. The story about the rape of a 100-year-old granny by a man young enough to be her grandson makes my stomach churn.

IT IS Women's Month and I am angry. The story about the rape of a 100-year-old granny by a man young enough to be her grandson makes my stomach churn.

As I read it the fear of being a woman in South Africa comes back. When you are afraid and angry you can't think straight.

One question repeats itself over and over in my mind: do South African men know what it's like to be a woman in this country?

Do they fully comprehend what it's like to live in a society saturated with the looming threat of rape?

Don't get me wrong, this country is full of progressive, supportive men who abhor crimes committed against women - but for some reason that awareness has not really translated into a reduction of the number of rape cases and other forms of abuse.

There are very few men who are actively involved in organisations and programmes that seek to rehabilitate abusive men.

It is often women themselves who are running support groups for victims and rehabilitation initiatives.

For me, as a woman, being raped is the worst thing that could happen to me. The trauma and fear of it runs so deep that I find it difficult to read rape stories without experiencing the most piercing pain.

If the mere mention of a woman being raped can gnaw at me in so profound a manner, then I shudder to think what the raped victim experiences.

It's not so much the fear of rape but my sense that there isn't enough outrage that brings me to my knees.

And for all their verbalised support and disgust at this heinous crime, law-abiding South African men are stuck n a comfort zone.

They are the ones who should be protesting on our behalf. They should be shouting at the top of their voices: "Not in our name!"

Some are doing it but not enough to move mountains. The same vigour and energy that characterises recent protest action over wages and work conditions should be reflected in the fight against rape.

Reacting to a rape story by shaking our heads and saying, "Oh this is horrible", is simply not enough.

Just a few days ago this newspaper reported on the kind of incident about which we hear too often in our country. It was a tiny piece on page six, while other newspapers gave the incident no mention at all.

The brutal rape of a 100-year-old granny by a 48-year-old man does not grab headlines. Why should it? So many women get violated every day and as a result we are becoming desensitised.

But, brothers, this cannot only be our problem as women. It is yours too. Let's own it together.

It is often argued, by men and women, that women who dress scantily invite aggressive attention from hot-blooded males.

We are told that it is unfair for women to expose any flesh because the poor men cannot help themselves.

What utter rubbish. If rape were a reaction to half-clothed women what could this 100-year-old granny have been wearing that drew her attacker's attention?

How do we explain the brutal rape of infants and little girls in our communities?

Let's not forget the beach and gym. That's where you find semi-naked women and men. I have never encountered men who walk around panting, ready for action.

The truth is men are not animals. They are human beings with well-developed cognitive skills and like all of humanity they have the ability to control their impulses.

In fact, decent men don't have to control anything because they know a woman dressed in a miniskirt or shorts is not looking for "it".

I know men get raped too but, again, let's be honest here - most victims are women and girls.

This is a violent, repulsive expression of male power and we women cannot counter it on our own. It is frightening to be female and powerless.

Rape is meant to humiliate and subjugate us. I salute the men who not only understand this, but take action.


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