South Africa has its own recent horrific rape-combined-with-mutilation-murder, and there are people who want that too to be a catalyst for outrage and change.
The gang-rape and murder of a 17-year-old girl in South Africa has triggered expressions of outrage from politicians and calls for Indian-style protests against a culture of sexual violence.
Anene Booysen was reportedly lured away from her friends and raped by a group of men. She was badly mutilated and left for dead on a building site in the town of Bredasdorp, 80 miles east of Cape Town, and found by a security guard on Saturday morning.
Hospital staff who fought to save her life were given counselling because of the horrific nature of her injuries, local media said. Before she died, Anene identified her former boyfriend as one of her attackers.
The former boyfriend certainly makes it interesting. Not stranger rape and murder, not random opportunistic rape and mutilation and murder, but personal, vindictive, possessive, angry rape and mutilation and murder.
Patrick Craven, spokesman for the Congress of South African Trade Unions, said: “When a very similar incident occurred in India recently, there was a massive outbreak of protest and mass demonstrations in the streets; it was a big story around the world. We must show the world that South Africans are no less angry at such crimes and make an equally loud statement of disgust and protest in the streets.”
But such a display seems unlikely in a country where rights groups complain that rape has become normalised and lost the power to shock. In 2010-11, 56,272 rapes were recorded in South Africa, an average of 154 a day and more than double the rate in India.
The same thing is said of DR Congo – rape has become normalized there.
Lindiwe Mazibuko, parliamentary leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance, said: “It is time to ask the tough questions that for too long we have avoided. We live in a deeply patriarchal and injured society where the rights of women are not respected. Indeed, there is a silent war against the children and women of this country – and we need all South Africans to unite in the fight against it.”
Mazibuko vowed to table a motion in parliament to debate “the ongoing scourge” and said she would request special public hearings “so that we can begin a national dialogue on South Africa’s rape and sexual violence crisis”.
Such calls are bemusing to campaigners already working to combat such violence. Dumisani Rebombo, who was 15 when he raped a girl at his school in 1976, is now a gender equality activist. “We don’t need a debate, we need action,” he said. “My take is that more people need to say enough is enough, let’s prevent this in our country. We don’t need more recommendations. We need education. The question of debate is an insult.”
Really. What is there to “debate”? What is there to have a “dialogue” about? Whether or not rape is bad?
Maybe Mazibuko just said it clumsily, but clearly Rebombo doesn’t think so. Clearly he thinks South Africa should skip the “debate” and just say Stop.