Child rape: ‘Are we failing our children?’

I have always understood rape to be largely about power; although I honestly wish it were something I never had to understand.

A person making themselves feel superior over another using sexual force, showing the other that I am stronger more powerful; I can take what I want from you, I am in control, I am the boss, for lack of a better word. I know there are other factors but that is how I have always understood it.

The case of the young lady who was gang raped and died in India, the men said she wasn’t a good girl because a good girl wouldn’t have been out so late. So what did they do? They “taught her a lesson” in the worst possible way. They had the power in that situation and they used it.

In South Africa the young white men who tied up and sodomised, with a broomstick, a fellow student, a young black male were also exerting their power.  We can do whatever we want with you, whether you like it or not, we have the power here, their message was loud and clear. The damage to that young man’s psyche irreparable.

It is the same dynamic for women in war torn countries who become the spoils of war. The woman who the soldiers rape because they conquered, they run things, they are in power. The same can be said of marital rape and male rape, all largely about who’s in control, about power. 

What I can’t seem to wrap my head around is the latest rape case that has the country in shock. Six boys from a Johannesburg Primary School allegedly raped two seven year old girls during school hours. This sadly is not the only case. In July of this year reports emerged that four girls were tied up and raped by four older boys from the same primary school in Pretoria on the sports field. The boys took turns raping all four of the girls and then threatened them into silence.

The cases keep coming up and it’s alarming. The first question you ask yourself is where are they learning such behaviour from? How could a parent expose a child to things that might influence the child to act in such a matter? Where are we going wrong as a people?

Do children understand the concept of power? Of taking control from somebody else? I shiver in fear just thinking about it.  How do the parents of all these children work through this? Is the rise in these rape cases an indication of our decaying society? How do we pinpoint the cause so we can find a solution? 

Most importantly is the question ‘Are we failing our children?’ There has been so much focus on children’s sexual rights and laws in this country.

Decriminalising teenage sex, condoms being offered in school but I for one haven’t heard about any one talking about better sex education for the children; where they will learn about what is rape and why it is wrong. 

Something schools should also look into is having guidance counsellors at schools. An individual who has a qualification as a social worker or a child psychologist a person the children can go to for guidance or just to tell them what is bothering them, someone that a child can trust and can tell if they see something wrong. 

If a child witnessed a rape they could speak to this person and he or she can help the child through it. Instead of having a child tell a friend and they land up wanting to try it without realising what they are even doing.

The time has come for parents to change the way they parent, not telling your child about sex or life has gone. If you don’t teach them, the TV and outside influences will teach them.

Parents empower and inform the girl child as well as the boy child. Most importantly trust your parenting skills, teaching a girl child about sex will not make her “loose”. Leaving a boy child to act irresponsibly sexually is not teaching him to be a man.  These cases are a wake up call people, it’s time as a people we change things otherwise I fear for the future.

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