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Posts tagged ‘Rape’

So who do we blame? (Another child rape)

Not ourselves, surely. We are upright, do-good citizens, right? We do our parts for ourselves and for others and the problem is theirs, not ours. Government should do something about it… and so it goes…

Yesterday, it was reported that a girl from Mitchell’s Plain in Grade R was raped by two boys in Grade 2. I was 5 in Grade R (then called pre-primary) and 7 in Grade 2 (Sub-B). Read about that here and another disheartening case also reported this week here. [I wrote an article last year for Good Men Project which mentions Mitchell’s Plain and my own distant understanding of the area as a child, and dealing with trauma “out there”. Read that here.]

If you read this and feel a sense of shame, then good. We need that. If you read this and start going on a blame rampage, stop. Do not even think about it. This happened on our watch. Just like I’ve said before, we might as well say “fuck the children” if we continue this way. That would be more honest, and fair. At least they’ll know what to expect. At least we wont be pretending to give a damn.

 

As I was walking and thinking yesterday, I was going to write about children and supposedly “bad” role models. I met a political leader who I think is an actual role model, yet he remained humble and wondered why he should be considered one when he is simply doing what is expected of him. I’ve written about  the hypocrisy of celeb role models before (this time it was going to be about Beyoncé and her latest sexual incarnation, and the way in which Bill O Reilly has been criticising her), and I maintain that we cannot blame pop stars and media coverage alone. My main argument remains – we can blame pop stars all we want, but at what point do we turn that lens back on ourselves for our own failures and realize that blaming is a simply a tool of deflection and procrastination.

Let me tell you a little something about my sexual awakening.

I was under ten years old – I think 7 or 8. It could have been a year or two younger, but I don’t think older. I was young. I was watching a film that probably had a PG rating, possibly PG 13. There was nothing explicit about it. In a scene, there is a male stripper. Something happened in me that day. I’m often asked when I knew I was gay. That’s a pretty dumb question (and those same people are dumbfounded when I ask “So when did you know you were straight?”) and shows how ignorant we are about othering.

The point is, I saw something and experienced something that was not a “normal” part of my development. At an age where I did not understand what was happening sexually, I also had to contend with the issue of orientation. This would only become a social issue later in life, but it was still something to think about as I knew that something was different.

I had strict parents. I did not know this until I saw the level of freedom that others had. I look back now and, while I still wish that they had loosened the reigns ever so slightly, I am also grateful. My point with the sexualisation of pop stars and the issue of role models is that it absolutely cannot exist in a vacuum. This is true with most things, however with children it is a different issue because we are dealing with lives – blank slates that need guidance and shaping.

My 5 year old nephew was watching TV with me and there was a promo for an award show. There was the briefest glimpse of naked Miley Cyrus on that wrecking ball and he gasped, looked at me and said “That lady was naked”.  He had a smile that seemed like a cross between incredulity and embarrassment for both he and Miley. We had a surprisingly mature discussion about it and reached the conclusion that it doesn’t matter. I hope that I drilled it into him that what she, and anyone else, does should in no way have an effect on his life, or the way he treats others.

My own sexual journey was relatively tame, with a personality and the temerity to not feel the need to act out. As immature as I was, and can be, I’m glad that I understood the implications of my actions.

These kids are not old enough to understand. Who or what were they emulating? Where was their mature and frank conversation with an elder? Where was the uncle/brother/father/mother/aunt to explain to these boys that what they did to that girl is not ok? Who is going to be there for her for the rest of her life (besides professional counselling) to guide her out of the confusing feelings she might experience?

I am sick of these problems being issues that are “out there” and not our problem to deal with. If you are a human being, this story should move you, and make you angry and want to do something about it, whether it is speaking out on the still sickeningly high levels of patriarchal arrogance on an everyday basis, or attending a protest. Something has to change.

If you are on this planet, then what happened is your fault. It is my fault. We have not done enough to change our world.

Those boys did not know any better. Their lives will never be the same again. That girl did not know what was happening to her. She will have to live with this for the rest of her life. Lives have been changed, and it happened while we were living. We have to live with ourselves, knowing that this never should have happened.

 

 <p>Author <a href=”https://plus.google.com/102128103971030481396” target=”blank” rel=”author”>Jerome Cornelius</a></p>

Violence Against Women: UWC and South Africa, where does it end?

This is an article I wrote for the CPS (Campus Protection Services) newsletter at UWC.

 

On the 26th of February 2013, the University held an event in response to the recent spate of violence against women in South Africa. The event was held in the main hall and was well-attended by both students and staff. This event highlighted the seriousness of these crimes.

However, the news statistics read by student volunteer Chanell Oliphant, as well as the opinion of many, contradicted the timing of this event. While lauded for their efforts, many have questioned why so many institutions are acting now. There were loud gasps from the audience when Oliphant read these statistics. Some of these include the number of unreported rapes, with only 1 in 20 being reported to police, with 147 women raped on a daily basis in South Africa. Does it end with a gasp, or will there be action from this shock?

After the event, audience members were asked to sign a pledge board with their ideas as to how to stop the violence against women in this country. But how many of them would go home and enact these pledges? One of the many problems with the issue of violence against women is the mistaken idea of power being lost by the individual, which then leads to shame. What others do in their individual lives is, of course, their business. However, the familiar case of only acting up when it hits too close to home has played out all too often in this country, and still not enough being done on a regular basis to change it. While the event hosted by the University, and even condemnation by President Jacob Zuma, was appreciated, it was too late for Anene Booysen and other persons who were victims to these crimes.

A bleak picture was painted when a staff member told me about how she witnessed a male student acting abusively towards his girlfriend on a Sunday morning on campus. The male student, when reacting violently to opposition from the staff member, threatened others too. This student is apparently well-known by other students and even security, which was called to the scene. The excuse given for not handling this case is that it was a “lover’s quarrel.” Protocol, it seems, is not clear in this case.

One of the many problems with violence against women is the number of unreported cases. It could be asked, where exactly is it safe? And whose job is it to keep others safe? Blaming the victim has become a popular theme which has been used by some, and not spoken out against enough by others. In speaking to students about this issue, an interesting case came up. On Friday, March 1st 2013, a student was accosted by a taxi driver at the Modderdam Road exit to get into his taxi. She chose to wait, and when she was grabbed by the driver and protested to be left alone, was slapped by him. A fight ensued and four other drivers approached. Two female students approached to intervene and that’s when the scuffle ended.

With this issue, it could be argued that the jurisdiction of campus security ends when a student leaves the gates of the University. But with a number of cases of abuse, both physical and sexual reported at an alarming rate, it’s safe to ask, where exactly is it safe?

 

<p>Author <a href=”https://plus.google.com/102128103971030481396” target=”blank” rel=”author”>Jerome Cornelius</a></p>

Fuck the Children, and others. What more do we need?

Below is a post that I wrote before the Anene Booysen case. But the feeling of anger and hopelessness I feel is uncanny. There are memes going around pleading with people to hoot for 60 seconds today, Sunday 10 February 2013, to support the fight against rape in South Africa.

We are failing as a society. Let us get the basics right. This week there were plenty of angry responses to this horrendous assault on Booysen. But what happens after we chop off their penises? Lobotomies? The mindsets will still be firmly in place.

I’m all for harsher sentencing and making examples of others, but what then. You can cut off the heads (so to speak) but without securing the base, we are destined for repeated failure.

@LifeisSavage on Twitter said this, which I think sums up the general feeling in the country at this moment: “I dont gibe a f**k about your human rights…the moment you committed that act of violence you lost all your rights”

So here’s the original post. Excuse my rant:

Fuck the children

I mean, why do we even need to care about them? No one cared about us, right? Do we still believe that they are the future?

Fight in front of them and have squabbles and cry and tell them you love them as if they know the difference between types of tears at their age. What do they know?

Nothing, and everything. Why is our society so messed up, we wonder?  Because we can’t even get the base right. As a writer and professional immaturuoso, I retreat into fantasy and fiction too often for my own good. And this is where the children of the world will forever remain if we keep up the great work we are currently doing by messing up their lives. The beauty with this is that I get a chance to leave that state when I feel fit. Imagine a world where children never grow up, because they were deprived of this opportunity.

Even worse, a world where they will never get a chance to play. They will never get a chance to be. They will never get a chance. This has never been more evident with the HIV/AIDS pandemic in South Africa. A generation of young people forced to raise their even younger siblings because they were handed a virus that is completely out of their frame of comprehension. Whatever happened to chicken pox and measles?

They will have plenty of time to grow up and colour in the lines and learn to speak correctly and use a knife and fork and look back and regret the Zuma era of politics with the rest of us. So why would you willingly put a child in a position where they would be forced to grow up? Because you can’t stand up. Because you can’t own up and face up to the selfishness that you are facing.

At this point I will contexualise briefly by stating that I have recently witnessed various incidences which make this rant relevant. People who should know better have put ideals of material wealth, or the notion of a perfect marriage or the enduring hope of forgiveness ahead of the well-being of individuals who asked for nothing. And are given nothing more than a robbed childhood.

In an interview with actress Viola Davis, she said that “Forgiveness is giving up the hope of a different past”. And if we are to grow as a nation, and as individuals, we first have to actually grow! Let’s take ourselves into consideration, but not forget that we have others coming too. In a world of quick fixes, let’s remember to nurture first.

 

 <p>Author <a href=”https://plus.google.com/102128103971030481396” target=”blank” rel=”author”>Jerome Cornelius</a></p>

An Anatomy of Arrogance: Rape, UWC, FNB, ANC and other “quagotomies.” And what about India?

Wait, you don’t know what a quagotomy is? *sigh* Let me educate you. That is a word that I just invented. A combination of a quagmire and a dichotomy, because let’s face it, at this point the world is in a swampy dilemma which is a two folded contradictory problematic mess.

As usual, I’ll look for a solution by piecing together the parts I encounter. Debate, anyone?

I’ve never claimed to know the answers, even when I’ve spoken self-deprecatingly of “solutions”. However, recent issues in this country, and in my immediate life, have made me, once again wonder, why?  And what about India?

It is widely spoken of the divides in this country and the gross inequalities. We are the most unequal society in the world beating even Brazil, the vast divide between rich and poor is painfully evident, Cape Town is a city which is unfair and essentially built on Apartheid architecture.

It all makes me wonder why we, as a society are so quick to point out, but not follow through?
Sure we can mention all of the above more often. Yet we choose not to.

The recent ANC battles have proven what a big ego it is, and how it is run by defensiveness and deflection. The ANC has the opportunity to nurture the country and take it to new heights, realising the potential that many have had, and continue to have for South Africa. Instead, they choose to be defensive and back against the wall and sneer at criticism. Gwede Mantashe lashes out at Mamphela Rampele for the rumours that she is to start her own political party. He, and others, have criticised her for taking an intellectual stance. But is this not what we now need? To start thinking, considering and really debating these issues on which we are remaining silent. We live in silence. We live in fear. And we expect change?!

The recent incident with the FNB bank advertisements is such a ridiculous example. How does a bank which featured ads with children relaying their fears for South Africa intimidate a political party which took down an oppressive regime?

Arrogance borne out of fear is my best guess. The ANC is riding a wave which is losing its trajectory as the ANC was not the only party, or organisation involved in ending apartheid.  So what do you do when you’re in the wrong and have no way out? You get defensive and fight! Dogs know it, except that that wouldn’t be very African of me. So please ignore my comparison of the ANC to a defenseless little yapping dog, because it is completely wrong of me to say that.

*

I recently had an experience at my University where I was waiting in line to register for the academic year. The queue was long and disjointed. No one really knew where to stand and there were various short queues.

I was towards the front of the entrance and a few men walked up and cut the already disorganised line and just stood there. People spoke up, but there was no one to help them. Let’s compare this to the people in power – they march in and seem to do whatever they want. We protest and speak up, but without the necessary volume and muscle, protestations are virtually futile.

This is what I see when I look at the state of this country. Men in power who, when called out, back into a corner and start barking insults and superfluous insults.

The gentlemen doth protest too much, but why? The ANC seems to fear an Arab Spring-style uprising. But why? Do they have reason to? Wouldn’t there be no fear or concern if jobs were done and issues being addressed?

Maybe they should ask, but what about India? Our friend in the BRICS bloc of nations, despite their infamous poverty, has proved economic growth and their own issues. 1948 was a key year in the world. Besides the state of Israel’s formation, Pakistan was formed from its partition from India, and Apartheid began in South Africa.

I’ve tried to rationalise it by looking at racial differences in SA, even today. But India has had devastating class differences, which could even be seen as even worse to some. There is no comparing really, especially when it comes to size. Is this then the reason why they have risen up? Safety in numbers?

We are a society that is so numb and apathetic, that we cannot even stand up when women and children are violated. How long do we keep turning our heads away and promoting the silence, comparing ourselves to others and not tackling what needs to be tackled?

Do we have to wait for our own national icon to die, wait a few decades, and then decide to rise up?
Do we have to sit in this status quo for a few decades more before we rise up against a system that doesn’t seem to care?

India, with what was deemed the worst rape incident on record, rose up. Women marched the streets in their thousands to tackle something which should never have happened in the first place.

So… why are we allowing the evil of this world to continually invade our country as simply an aspect of our society?

In a country like South Africa, many see certain issues as above others. How could we possibly focus on rhino poaching when we have homeless people? How can we even bother with gay rights when children don’t even have food to eat when they go to school?

You would then think that one or other group would at least rise to the top of the pile and we could achieve some balance. Instead we have children going hungry, people still homeless, shoddy education, human rights violations and dead rhinos.

And the rest of us throw our hands up and wonder why.

 

<p>Author <a href=”https://plus.google.com/102128103971030481396” target=”blank” rel=”author”>Jerome Cornelius</a></p>

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