Do­mes­tic vi­o­lence of this sor­did kind can­not be tol­er­ated

Zululand Observer - Monday - - ZO OPINION -

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.

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