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 memorial-to-victimsWomen place white flowers outside parliament during a demonstration on the International Day for the Prevention of Violence Against Women in South Africa. (Photo: Getty Images.)

By Koketso Moeti, South Africa Correspondent for Safeworld

Uproar Focuses on Filming of Rape, Not Rape Itself

  • On 17th April 2012, two boys aged between 14 and 20 were arrested for allegedly being amongst seven boys who gang-raped a 17-year old girl.
  • On 18th April 2012, South Africa was shocked and disturbed by the emergence of a video recording showing the gang-rape taking place. The video also attracted a lot of criticism; #rapevideo even trended on Twitter South Africa.

    What is very disturbing, though, is that the focus of the uproar in the nation seemed to be more about the filming of the rape, rather than the rape itself.

    This is evidenced in many ways, most notably by the Minister of the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Lulu Xingwana, saying, "I will speak to the minister of police to ensure that this case is prioritized. Distributing child porn is illegal in this country, so the police must confiscate this video."

    Her comment suggests that the case is being prioritised, not because a teenage girl was raped, but because the rape was filmed.

    Why Not Prioritise Unresolved Rape Cases?

    If indeed the matter is being prioritised because a teenager had been sexually violated, and her Human and Constitutional Rights violated too, then why not prioritise the following cases that are still unresolved?

    • 5th April:
      Police confirmed that a 46-year-old man was arrested for raping a 14 year-old in Alabama near Klerksdorp.
       A Limpopo man is accused of raping his three year-old daughter.
    • 3rd April:
      A Wynberg man was in court for raping three young girls and paying them off with chips and cash.
       Police arrested a third person in connection with the rape of a 14 year-old girl in Port Elizabeth.
      Seven young men accused of brutally raping and murdering a Cape Town teenager; they claim they are innocent.
      Gerald Rosselloty stood accused of raping a six-year-old girl in 2006.
    • 2nd April:
      A 46-year old man was accused of raping a 10-year-old girl.

    South Africa Fails in Its Duty to Protect Children

    In South Africa, children are classified as vulnerable, as they are a special group in our society that not only experiences the worst of social ills, but also because they are often unable to fend for themselves.

    As such, they have been identified as a group in need of ‘special protection’, even by the South African Constitution, which is the highest law of our nation. Section 28 of the South African Constitution sets out special rights just for children, most notably that, “every child has a right to be protected from abuse or bad treatment that ignores his or her needs”.

    Apart from the Constitution, children are also protected by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). South Africa ratified the Convention on 16th June 1995. It is clear that as a nation, South Africa is failing in its duty to protect its children.

    And according to the Institute for Security Studies (ISS):

    • There is an increase of child rape incidents in South Africa.
    • More than 28,000 children under the age of 18 years were sexually assaulted from 2012 to 2011, with nearly a third of these children being under the age of 10.
    • South Africa has one of the highest level of child rape globally.

    No Rape is 'Worse' or 'Better' Than Another

    Rape is rape.

    It is something horrific that no-one, especially a child - should have to experience.

    No rape should ever be thought of as ‘worse’ than another, as doing so suggests that some forms of rape are more acceptable than others. It also suggests that a nation that accepts rape as a part of its existence is also a nation willing to compromise on a vicious crime, as long as it’s a ‘better’ form of rape.

    As a nation, we need to prioritise every case of child rape, which is terrible blight on us all; we are failing those who most need our protection.


    Follow Koketso Moeti on Twitter: @Kmoeti