South Africa has been in lockdown for more than a week now – facing a national disaster for the first time since the inception of our democracy. For many South Africans this causes financial loss, uncertainty, uncomfortable living arrangements, and stress about what tomorrow might bring. A fortunate few could afford to enter panic-buying mode and some could embark on doomsday-like preparations but many others find themselves in exceedingly difficult circumstances.
Tag Archive for: violence against women
Presidential Commitment to support for Rape Survivors: A Victory
During the State of the Nation Address, delivered on 7 February 2019, President Cyril Ramaphosa more than once mentioned the issue of gender based violence. He confirmed that more funds will be dedicated to places of support, such as Thuthuzela Care Centres, and that government is working to ensure the better functioning of Sexual Offences courts. Funds must be made available to civil society organisations who already provide specialist support services to survivors to continue to deliver and expand these services. This will mean that more rape survivors can access justice and support services.
We believe that all survivors of sexual offences should have access to a specialised court. Rape Crisis Director Kathleen Dey says, “We believe that the culture of impunity for perpetrators of rape will be addressed by a stronger criminal justice system with support services, sexual offences courts and more prosecutions”.
Writing about rape. Where do you start?
Such a sensitive topic, so prevalent in our society today. It is therefore so important to write about it, so that we can broaden people’s awareness about rape. We want to write about rape because we want our words, stories and theories to change into actions and understandings. But how do you write about such a painful topic without over-sensitising or re-traumatising people and still putting rape survivor’s everyday lived experiences on the foreground? With this question in mind, I went to the Writing about Rape Workshop, organised by the Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust.
In recent years, drug facilitated rape (date rape) has become a more prominent cause of
concern in public discourse. Drink spiking has become synonymous with sexual assault, drug rape and date rape. The typical scenario of drink spiking involves a public space such as a bar, a club, a restaurant, a shebeen or a date setting. It could however also happen in more private settings, such as the home. The perpetrator targets a victim, by secretly spiking his or her drink with a drug. The drug used is often Rohypnol, but also Tik. When the victim becomes incapacitated, the perpetrator could abuse the victim’s vulnerable situation by sexually assaulting, raping and robbing him or her. Tik serves not only to render a victim helpless but also addicted and dependent on the rapist for drug supply thereafter even after he is convicted and jailed.
Rape is a violent crime in which a person uses sexual acts to intentionally harm and hurt another. We cannot talk about rape in polite terms or hide the truth about it. Rape is an abuse of power and an abuse of sex.
It is important for rape survivors to understand the exact meaning of the laws on rape for two reasons:
- Firstly, a rape survivor needs enough information about the law to know whether her case has a chance of succeeding or not.
- Secondly, the survivor needs to know exactly what is expected of them to prove that the rapist is guilty in the eyes of the law.
The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act (Act 32 of 2007) has been in effect in South Africa since 16 December 2007. This law states that it is a crime to intentionally commit a sexual act against another person without that person’s consent.
It’s an annual play and we have all seen it before….
Every year in South Africa, we celebrate Women’s Month to commemorate the thousands of women who fought so bravely for equality during apartheid.
But it has become a month of lip service. Government departments praise their programs to end the scourge of gender based violence and spew dialogue about the initiatives that exist which put the needs of South African women first.
But let’s look at a more accurate test. The importance placed on women’s rights can be measured when a political figure is involved in the act of violating women. Enter, former deputy Minister of Higher Education, Mduduzi Manana.
When I first became aware of the #MenAreTrash hashtag it was never a stand-alone thing. The hashtag always preceded or followed a story, in less than 140 characters on Twitter, about why men are trash. Every reason for using the hashtag was real. Horrific stories of rape and abuse shared the hashtag with downright rude stories about men dissing women and girls for how they looked, dressed, spoke. One tweeter used #MenAreTrash to describe the total stranger who flooded her with unsolicited dick pics. Another posted a picture of her black eye. There was the one who addressed her harasser personally, and another who posted a thread of daily incidents of harassment she had experienced since puberty. It was a long list. Sometimes #MenAreTrash was the single word answer to a tweet that was sexist or inappropriate or ugly towards women.
When I first encountered the hashtag I had no idea how it was going to be taken up, or how much it would trend. But, more importantly, I had no idea how fierce male resistance to it would be.
It is the end of my Honours year. I am at a party to celebrate. I am shivering, despite the warm evening as I stand with a group of my classmates on the patio. We are anxiously waiting to hear if the two girls who left the party to go for a walk and did not return, have been found. Someone comes running towards us out of the darkness. He takes a breath, “the worst has happened”, a pause… “they have been raped”.
I have thought of those words many times in the last five years. I have been recalled to them again in the past few weeks as another spate of highly publicised rapes (and murders) infiltrate my consciousness:
RAPE IS THE WORST THING THAT CAN HAPPEN TO A WOMXN
I hear this message echoed in the words of Judge Kgomo as he hands down sentencing to serial rapist Christian Cornelius Julies in the North West. “It is unquestionable that if he was not stopped in his tracks, belatedly though, the devastation of girls and women’s lives would have continued”.