11 May 2007

South African Court: Men cannot be raped

I was horrofied when I read about the Court's ruling about men rape. In a country where rape of both men and women, boys and girls is so very common - I am deeply disappointed about this incredible narrow minded decision.

How can it be that sodomising a woman against her will
can be classified as rape and forced sodomy of a men can't? With all do respect, but in what way does a female anus differ from a male bum, apart from belonging to a woman's body? In what way is forced sodomy of a woman worse than forced sodomy of a man? In both cases, it entails the same horrific deed with the same humiliating, traumatising impact. I am a 100% sure that a male victim of anal rape is just as much violated and hurt as his female counterpart. And maybe even more so due to the heavy taboo that still rests on male rape worldwide.

To me, anyone who with the use of force shoves his privates into someone - no matter what hole, no matter if the victim is a man or a woman - is a rapist.

Miriam Mannak, Africa in the News / Cape Town, South Africa

22 February 2007

20-month old baby girl raped

I feel sick to the stomach. Angry. Incredibly sad. Furious. I want to cry, I want to shout, scream, hurl, sob and curse until my lungs hurt. I feel like hitting someone. Yes, really hitting - not just tapping the person on the head. I feel like hitting the person who could not control himself and therefore ruined a small baby’s life. I feel like hitting all the people who have done, are doing and will be doing the same horrendous act.

She was only 20-months old when she was raped. Repeatedly, the entire night. At barely two years of age, this little girl from somewhere in the South Africa’s Eastern Cape province went trough what can be classified as one of the most horrendous experiences that can happen to a woman. And the perpetrator? According to today’s news papers, the person behind this horrific crime is a child himself, a 14-year old boy and a family member of his victim.

An overpowering combination of sadness and anger suffocates me, when I think about the fact that there are people walking around who are emotionally able to violate others in such way. Especially children. How on earth do some men have no problems with and even feel the urge to unzip their pants, to take it out and to rob our young generations from their dignity, their faith in people, their innocence, and from a physically, mentally and sexually healthy life?

And since when do kids rape kids? When I was fourteen, sex was the last thing on my mind, and rape was an unknown word to me. Of course, times have changed and kids these days are more sexually mature – or think they are more sexually mature – than children ten, fifteen years ago. But that is not – cannot – be an excuse.

As a society we need to stand up against what is now classified as a crime against humanity. We all need to make one big fist against rape. Men, but also women have a responsibility to prevent rape in our communities. And it is about time we only blame men, as we also need to look at ourselves and how we bring up our sons.

In many cultures across the world – not only in Africa – a son’s place in the family is usually different when compared to the position of his sister. In many cases, boys are treated as superior to and more precious than their female siblings, living a childhood life with more privileges, more freedom, and less rules.

I am not saying that all mothers are per definition to blame when their son turns out to be a rapist. Yet, I am saying that many rapists have – due to their upbringing – a skew view of the relation between men and women and about how both sexes should interact. Many see women as inferior, as submissive and maybe even as voiceless objects, simply because they were raised that with the idea that boys are better, stronger, and superior towards girls. We women – mothers and mothers to be – have a responsibility to raise our sons and daughters equally and to teach our sons to have the utmost respect for the opposite sex.

Hopefully, the little girl from the Eastern Cape will recover fully after her ordeal. Hopefully her physical and emotional scars will fade over the years.

Miriam Mannak, Africa in the News / Cape Town, South Africa