Domestic violence of this sordid kind cannot be tolerated
A five year-old girl was callously raped by her biological father (see our previous edition).
The testimony of her heartbroken grandmother was a stark reminder that the consequence of this vile act goes far beyond the victim herself; it spreads the foul stench of the obscene deed to families, communities and the entire throng of honest and decent citizens in a society becoming all too frequently polluted by such acts.
Her loving gogo gave testimony of the physical pain the little girl endured during the incident and the subsequent medical examination.
The swift and successful court conviction of the perpetrator, who was given three life terms of imprisonment, will not heal that hurt – not to mention the emotional scars the child will carry, perhaps for the rest of her life.
One must at this point, however, be thankful for the court system through which the victims receive great support and are prepared by caring counsellors for the ordeal of giving testimony – which in itself could be a form of secondary trauma.
Of late we have seen an increasing number of rapes being reported, many of which involve close family members or perpetrators known to the victims; but some are random, linked to break-ins, abductions, human trafficking and other criminal actions.
Typically, most of the offences occur behind closed doors and are thus regarded as ‘non-policeable’.
But while the SAPS might not know what is going on, family, friends and neighbours often do and should make it their responsibility to report any suspicious activity they might see or hear about.
Each media report highlights a different facet relating to the issue of rape; collectively, they amount to an aggregate of shame, unease and outrage about the prevalence of sexual offences and the balancing of the scales between the interests of the victim, the offender and society.
LifeLine Zululand recently reported at its AGM statistics revealing that 725 new sexual assault cases were reported at Ngwelezana Hospital in the past calendar year, of which 63% of the victims were younger than 18.
A further 603 new sexual abuse and domestic violence cases were reported at SAPS stations where LifeLine runs its Victim Empowerment Programmes.
How many more victims – young and old (yes, gogos too are prey) - will be subjected to being raped, which carries the added possibility of being infected with HIV/Aids or falling pregnant?
Each one of us carries the burden of protecting the most vulnerable in society.