Thursday, June 25, 2009

Rape Nation

Her mother is angry with her for reporting the rape to the police.
I fetched her for work today and she is struggling…. because her mother wants her to withdraw the criminal charge. She is accused of bringing shame on the family. Her mother says that her case at the police station will turn her brother into a criminal. “It is bad enough what has happened…. Why is she making things worse? “

This is a familiar story. The victim is further victimised by being asked to remain silent. In fact there is great silence in our land. South Africa is notorious for having one of the highest levels of rape in the world. Only a fraction are reported, and only a fraction of those lead to a conviction.

A recent study into rape and HIV in the rural Eastern Cape and Natal, by the Medical Research Council (MRC), has revealed the shocking statistic that one in four men admit to rape - and many have raped more than one victim. Professor Rachel Jewkes of the MRC, who carried out the research, said: "We have a very, very high prevalence of rape in South Africa. I think it is down to ideas about masculinity based on gender hierarchy and the sexual entitlement of men." ( Mail and Guardian ).

I agree with Barry .

What is wrong with us? What is wrong with masculinity? Even old-fashioned ideas about maleness suggests it’s the mens role to “protect” the so-called weaker sex. What kind of protection are we offering?
I am not in the 1 in 4 category. I have not raped a woman. Which puts me in the 3 in 4 group… But there’s no comfort in being in that group for me. I’m asking myself, what have we 3 done to make it possible for the 1 in4 to do what they have done?
How have we colluded with questionable ideas about being “men”?
How have we failed to speak out against attitudes and actions that are not respectful of women?
How have we failed to act - holding our fellow men accountable for their actions?
How can it be that 1 in 4 men have raped a women, and the other 3 know nothing about it? What is our (what is my) responsibility

I do not have easy answers. I do not know how to respond.
It sounds like a Christian evasion of responsibility to say – “I will pray about it”. But I am praying for guidance. Because we men cannot sit comfortably with this… Ever.


Cecilia said...

This is a horrific story. I thank God that she has you in her life, that she has someone who (though you cannot "understand" her immediate experience of rape) "gets it," that she is the victim here, that what has happened and is continuing to happen to her is wrong, wrong, wrong.

I will pray.

becky said...

the family response is very, very common. it doesn't make it right, but i learned in this journey as a counselor and in life, one cannot bury sin. it will come out. the best response is for you to be there when she does speak; you may be the only person she can talk to.

what many people do not understand that it is not the trauma alone that traumatizes but the response afterwards.

my thoughts are with you brother.