Most of the time I try to keep blogs posts light because when it comes to serious topics I prefer to have discussions, not just state my view and move on. But this is an exception.
People always ask about the crime rate in South Africa. About rape, drug use, gang violence and hijackings, all of which are common occurrences. It deters foreigners from wanting to visit South Africa, and probably rightly so.
Even though I don’t live in South Africa anymore, I still follow the news because my family live there. There are so many articles on gang rape, especially recently, that it makes my stomach churn.
But the amounts of articles on the issue don’t correlate to the amount of rapes that happen every day. Every few seconds, 17 seconds to be statistically correct, of every day in South Africa someone is raped. Forget the generic term ‘someone’, that’s someone’s daughter, sister, friend, mother.
I was watching the news one night, when I still lived there, and it was reported that a male nurse raped an elderly patient. He wasn’t arrested; he just wasn’t allowed to go back to work for a while.
After that I decided to read more on similar rape cases, and it’s appalling how many cancer patients, pregnant patients and even mentally-ill patients are raped in hospital.
Then there are children who are raped. No not even children, babies. There are people who believe that raping a virgin, preferably a new-born baby, will cure AIDS. I don’t know where this myth started but the fact that it’s happened and is happening is sickening.
I won’t say that lack of education is the sole problem, because rapists are not only those who haven’t gone to school or gotten a college degree. But these ridiculous myths that people believe to be true is in part because of a lack of education. And a lack of empathy for others. A lack of decency. Hell, a lack a humanity.
The President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, publicly condemns these actions, but the President of South Africa was charged of raping an HIV- positive woman in his home. I’m pointing out that she was HIV-positive because the President said that taking a shower afterwards reduces the risk of contracting the disease. I don’t know where he got his information from but spreading information like that is detrimental to a country, especially a country where millions of people have AIDS. You’d think he barely has any supporters, but he has many. And if they believe the things he says, who’s to say they don’t follow his example?
I always say that South Africa is a beautiful country. But then I also say that I’d never live there again. Rape is not some far away thought that you’re reminded of when you watch an episode of Law and Order, it’s a real fear that plagues you every day. When you leave your house, when you enter your car, when you leave a supermarket, when you visit a friend; you have to be constantly aware of your surroundings.
I travelled by public transport every day and carried anxiety medication, a knife and a du’ah [prayer] book with me wherever I went. Just in case. And that’s the mind- set you have when you live there. Let me take this taser/knife/pepper spray with me, just in case.
It’s a horrible way to live, and something has to change. I’ve always said that the death penalty should be brought back because the law protects the criminals. I’m not a pessimist, but crime rates have sky rocketed and child rape has increased. Sure there are things South Africa can be proud of, but to be known as the rape capital of the world is definitely not one of them.