Columns 30.7.2015 06:00 am

Sadly, rape is still everyday

Kekeletso Nakeli-Dhliwayo

Kekeletso Nakeli-Dhliwayo

Driving to work on Tuesday morning, the Bill Cosby case was being discussed on the radio. Did he do it, did he not?

There was a flurry of phone calls from listeners who called into the station, all saying “I’ve been violated too”. This was the real shocker for me. If in 30 minutes almost 10 people were part of a haunting statistic, what is the actual number in reality?

Most of the women who called in, spoke of being raped at a young age by family members. Life shouldn’t be like this. Women are being targeted; society is not kind to women folk.

There’s what some people call corrective rape. There’s a rise in paedophile cases, and in marital rape and incest. There was a shocking story of parents who pass their children around to their friends in exchange for drugs, like the case of a brother and sister in the Free State.

Cry the beloved country. Have we really allowed rape to become part of everyday life?

Then we have singers, sports stars and other members of the elite accused of rape. Yet we all pretend to be shocked, as though rape is not common. It is.

Being raped by an unknown man must be as traumatic as being raped by one who has a household name. When someone well-known is accused, we see supporters rallying outside courtrooms in his support, mocking and insulting victims. And the main supporters of the accused are often women.

How do we expect women to report these violations, if they must go through hell with the cheerleading committee before they can face the perpetrators? Not to mention any names.

Actually, let me mention names. I remember Baby Tshepang, Khwezi, Nwabisa Ngcukana and so many more women. Baby Tshepang, raped at six weeks, Khwezi accused Number 1 of rape, and Nwabisa attacked at a taxi rank in 2008 for wearing a miniskirt.

Some things that happen are just so heart breaking, These are women whose lives have been changed forever, but when the media turn off their cameras and protesters are cleared of the streets, their experience is forgotten. Not nearly enough is done to protect women.

I mentioned Khwezi. Well, she faced some of the worst criticism from her accuser’s supporters on a daily basis while attending the case. It didn’t seem to matter to them which way her court case would go. Trial by an unqualified caucus?

The men who rape were not born that way. There’s no rape-gene. Something made them that way. But that shouldn’t be anyone else’s problem. There’s no excuse for raping a man, woman or child, ever.

To the police officers who want to “counsel the victim and mediate with the accused”, that’s not your place. Your role is to investigate and hand over to the courts. Give people the justice they deserve. Unlike the Bill Cosby case, maybe 45 years from now nobody will remember the Baby Tshepang incident. And then who will get justice for the victims?

No, we cannot wait for 16 Days of Activism to do something. Rape is an everyday occurrence, an every-minute occurrence. The victims are young or old and sometimes even mentally challenged. We need to protect our society.

 

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