For many years the public were scared to call rapists by their gender for fear of stereotyping. But for many years NGO’s working in the field of abuse have seen the affects of deeds done by men. A solidarity report says that a child is raped in South Africa every 3 minutes. Most of these are young girls between 8 and 12. Most of them have been raped by someone they know. This someone is a father, a grandfather, a brother, the mother’s boyfriend, the neighbour – all of them men.
The extremely violent rape and death of a student in India and more recently in Bredasdorp has highlighted the fact that the offenders are indeed violent and ruthless men. It is also becoming more evident that the current reporting and intervention systems dismally fail the victims of these offences. Many cases, especially where children have been raped, are thrown out of court because of the inability of the child to testify. In these cases medical evidence is of utmost importance, but a lack of proper training in the field of forensic medical examinations results in doctors who are not equipped to do the examination, let alone testify in court. Therapy during and after the court process is none existent and it is a luxury only the wealthy can afford.
This paints a grim picture of the situation in South Africa. It has become an unsafe environment for women and female children where perpetrators roam free and victims are deserted. Currently many of the NGO’s working in the field of women and child abuse are running responsive programmes. And they are overwhelmed even with the low reporting rates. They also acknowledge that this is a pandemic that they cannot stop, they can only help. So who should take responsibility for this then?
During the opening of a Matla A Bana Child friendly Reporting Facility at Ceres Police station, Western Cape police commissioner, General Lamoer, challenged men to take responsibility for these deeds. He reiterated this message during the 16 Days of Activism Campaign. He boldly acknowledgeD that men are indeed the perpetrators and that change will only come from men standing up and taking action. Like drunken drivers and alcoholics they need to admit that they have a problem. Only once this start happening will this terrible problem be addressed.
A group of business executives, and all men, from Johannesburg took up his challenge. Originally included in the Matla A Bana Cape Argus team, they have now undertaken to cycle from Johannesburg to Cape Town. During this tour they will be visiting schools in the regions and doing interviews to spread this message. Their dream is that this Xtreme For Kids Tour will grown into a national event during which men have the opportunity to raise their voices against women and child abuse.
“It is initiatives like this and the participation of men that can tip the scale”, says Matla A Bana CEO Monique Strydom. “Where we work you will find women helping other women to pick up the pieces. Very few men actually become involved in the restoration work after the deed was done. But they can make a huge difference by speaking out and setting examples for young men out there”.
It is time that South Africa is no longer seen as a country where children are being raped and abused, but as a true reflection of the rainbow nation it claims to be.
For more information on Matla A Bana or the Xtremeforkids Cycle tour, please visit www.matlaabana.co.za