It’s impossible to write about anything else today other than the word that’s been shouted out on radio stations, talked about on Twitter and flung across the pages of newspapers, today more than most other recent days: RAPE. It’s such an ugly word, for one of the most despicable acts a human can commit.
If we get upset about genocide, about school shootings and about wars in far flung places, then we will have failed ourselves if we do not get angry about this epidemic too. We’ve all heard the stats: that our beloved country, filled with diverse wonderful and warm people is also the rape capital of the world. It’s hard to believe but believe it we must, because it is the hard, inevitable truth.
I’ve read lots of articles about the root of the problem and what we can do about it. Pierre de Vos takes a different stance and says he won’t be joining his well-meaning male friends in expressing outrage. He goes on to explain that the problem stems from a changing society in which males find themselves increasingly threatened by the rising power of women – they then seek to assert dominance in a very physical form, the form of rape.
I don’t agree with Pierre in terms of keeping our anger to ourselves, but I do agree that more needs to be done than simply declaring our outrage and then a week later going back to our safe, upper-class lives and completely forgetting about the problem. There needs to be a tipping point and the only way this can happen is if we no longer cease to ignore the problem. Whispering about rape behind closed doors is not going to do it, we need to be outspoken about it, we need to get angry and we need to use this wave of anger to enforce change. The SA Media are doing a wonderful job of this and us ordinary citizens need to join them in expressing how we feel too.
I want all of this for selfish reasons too. I want my daughter to grow up in a society where she feels safe and I want my unborn son to respect women and to treat them as equals. But most of all, we need change for more than just our own personal reasons, we need it for Jes Foord, for Anene Booysen and for the countless unknown names and faces of men, women and children who continue to suffer, often in silence, with no justice served.
It’s easy to be cynical and superior about how people’s tweets/comments/articles do nothing to improve the situation, but for many individuals, this is the only way to start. I’m going to show compassion, express outrage and then use the resources I have to try and make a small difference. It’s what we all need to do as individuals if we want to see any kind of sea change in our country. Apathy of any kind will get us nowhere. #STOPRAPE