We owe it to each other to tell stories - Neil Gaiman

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Rape, the new genocide

In light of the recent rape and resulting death of a 17 year old girl in Bredasdorp, Western Cape, South Africa, I thought I would post this which I had written in 2009. I hope it helps to convey my anger at this never ending scourge that is affecting the world and womyn.

I honestly thought that after the brutal, almost fatal rape of Alison Botha in the 90s  that things would change in South Africa. But it seems that the wheels of change for important things are particularly slow. 

Rape, the new genocide

The United Nations defines genocide as:
"any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial group as such:
- killing members of the group;
- causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
- deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
- imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
-... forcibly transferring children of the group to another group"

Womyn are a national group,  and womyn are more likely to undergo physical harm during forced intercourse they are also more often than not the victims of rape. In view of the fact that 1 in 4 South African men have or will at some stage in their lives rape one or many womyn, it is shocking that with the advent of HIV/AIDS and this widely known statistic that rape has not yet been classified as a form of genocide. Looking at the United Nations (widely accepted) definition for genocide, it should be amended that in the case of a womyn being raped by an HIV positive man that it is a case of genocide, as it ascribes to four of the five above mentioned factors that qualifies an act as genocide. First of all, when a womyn is raped by an HIV positive man, should she contract HIV (and considering we live in a country where only 1 in 9 womyn report being raped this is a high probability as when they do not report rape they cannot be treated with ARVs to prevent HIV) it is in effect what is referred to in the first point. That man is in effect killing a member of the female population. Being raped in most cases causes serious bodily harm, not to mention the mental harm that it inflicts on womyn. When being raped, the womyn is forced to have intercourse against her will which more often than not results in vaginal tearing and chronic pelvic pain to mention only two of the many awful physical effects. Of course other than that, she stands the chance of becoming pregnant with the child of the rapist, which is more than anyone should ever have to handle. Pregnancy is hard enough without the psychological trouble that can arise from having a child that resulted from such a trauma.

A womyn who has been raped is not only physically harmed, but undergoes psychological damage too, the mental effects of rape include, but are not limited to anger, aggression, self blame, lack of empathy and decreased capacity to seek help - hence the saddening statistic  that only 1 in 9 South African womyn report being raped. Not to mention the risk of suicide; suicide rates are high in womyn who have been raped, for instance in Ethiopia 6% of school girls who have been raped have attempted suicide. In fact, rape is often an indicator of suicide attempts later in life. Rape also results in a sense of shame; which has many awful side effects such as isolation, anger and aggression. Shame  linked to rape can also result in eating disorders, substance abuse and depression. Young womyn who have been raped are also prone to participating in unsafe sexual activity. Perhaps loss of self respect is the greatest injustice that arises from rape. Pregnancy after rape can be considered to ascribe to the fourth condition of genocide - not very many womyn are willing to keep a child conceived through rape. Thus this leads to a decrease in births (albeit births that might not have occurred at all) but also what  if a womyn was pregnant before she got raped? If the rape resulted in her becoming HIV Positive, she might well opt to abort the baby, not wanting the foetus to be exposed to a life so short that it might not be worth living. Therefore, rape has the ability to impose measures that are able to prevent births within the target group, i.e. womyn; since In the case of very young womyn and little girls being raped, the damage inflicted on the reproductive organs can be so great that it renders the female unable to have children in future.

Womyn are unbelievably strong members of the population considering the background from which we came, we have had to fight very hard to get equal treatment, rights and opportunities. Thus factor number three of genocide will take an immensely long time to overcome womyn. The South African judicial system lets womyn down in so many ways, not really seeing that justice delayed is justice denied. When you have to wait for years without relief, seeing the perpetrator walking free on the street you start to wonder whether the rapist has more rights than you. But then when you consider the case of our current president and his history that has been tainted with rape charges, you wonder whether rape will ever be taken seriously by the South African judiciary. But then considering the factors to which we have had to become subordinate to, such as not walking around late at night or not walking around at night, not wearing clothing that can be considered to be provocative - womyn who become victimised by rape are seen to be looking for it when they break those unwritten rules for preventing rape; because heaven knows men have
no self control! And womyn are always to blame, even they are not the ones who raped but rather are the ones who were raped. This limits womyn to acting in a manner that will not tempt a man to rape her, but what about the instances where a womyn was not acting in any manner that suggested any desired sexual activity or was in any way provocative. Is the womyn still to blame then or can the man finally be blamed for being unable to control himself?

What about when a grown man rapes a child? Did that innocent child really do something so provocative that she asked to be violated? Children are too innocent to think of such things. It is scary the way adults have the ability to hurt children. The psychological effects of sexual assault on children are many. No child deserves to go through such an awful ordeal and to allow a child rapist to roam free is a terrible injustice.

To deny that rape is a form of genocide, especially when it results in a womyn contracting HIV/AIDS or not being able to have children in the future because of being raped is as great a human right's violation as rape itself. Not even getting into the crime of womyn being raped and then killed. The law or rather I should say the judicial system of South Africa is too lax when it comes to prosecuting rapists, it seems almost as though the victim, or rather the rape survivor is the perpetrator rather than the perpetrator as the rape survivor is denied the justice that she deserves. The rapist is not put behind bars and is free to roam the streets and rape again, which is why I will again refer to the scary statistic of 1 in 4  South African men being rapists, one cannot blame womyn for not feeling safe. Justice delayed is justice denied, so let's force a mandate to be set so that rapists can get the prosecution they deserved, because a man raping once is one rape too many. 



1 comment:

  1. To me, rape is the most horrible thing out there. No woman asks to be raped and no child asks to be molested or violated by adults. Anyone who gets sexually assaulted should be able to get help for it. And if that woman gets pregnant by her rapist, she shoudl be able to abort the baby without all these, pardon my French, Jesus freaks telling her that she'll go to Hell for aborting a baby. I'd love to say to them "Excuse me, since when do you understand rape?" I hate all these weirdos going around, spouting off useless information about going to hell for that. Rape is a crime and it should be treated as such. Some people don't consider rape a crime. They don't treat it very seriously, but it should be taken very seriously.


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