Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Who is responsible for rape?

Let's take a hard-news shift in focus, straight to South Africa. I'll be very interested to know what my international readers (which is most of you - judging by my blog stats) think of this story.

It's a pretty tragic story about a Norwegian exchange student who was raped by thugs who accosted her and her boyfriend while they sat in their car on Signal Hill in Cape Town at 01:00 in the morning.

The comments below the story are pretty much the usual blame-game South Africans like to play with the ANC, seeing this case as another huge blow to South Africa's reputation internationally and the direct fault of the Government. As I think I've mentioned before on this blog, it's the sort of knee-jerk reaction which I so dislike about South Africans, which is why I'm really looking forward to joining Romania's fresh shores.

As a few commentators have pointed out, however, this girl should not have been out at 01:00 in the morning parked alone on a mountain. I don't know what crime is like in Norway, but surely even there girls are taught to avoid dark places in the wee hours of the morning?

The bigger issue is South Africans love of blaming the Government for everything. Crime happens globally, and in South Africa there are numerous social reasons why rape is a particularly prevalent crime (poverty, drugs and a culture which objectifies women is only part of it) ... it's not, however, at the point where while walking down the road you see gangs of men chasing random women down the street.

For foreign readers, however, the real context to this story is that in South Africa Cape Town is seen as this little ideal gem of a coastal city, and no crime can ever happen there ... although unfortunately it does. That this happened on one of Cape Town's landmarks (Signal Hill) and to a foreign student makes matters even worse.

What do you think? If you read about this story in the news, would you think worse of South Africa for it? Do you also blame the Government for not preventing the rape from taking place, or do you think that social crimes cannot be laid at the Government's doorstep? This doesn't necessarily only apply to South Africa either: women and men get raped across world, so this is a global problem. I just think some countries are better at sweeping it under the carpet than others. 

South Africa has a great love for trumpeting the worst news from the towers, which is what ironically does the real damage to the country's reputation. Of course, it's a chicken and egg scenario: without the crime in the first place, the newspapers would have nothing to report. Literally. Unless you count charitable handovers and bake-sales as front page news!

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