By: Onawanda Mpanza
According to IOl news, 144 women report to police about rape in South Africa. That amounts to six cases every hour. This means, 3600 women are raped every single day. South Africa and India are the leading giants in this brutal act towards women. According to Interpol, South Africa has the highest rape statistic in the world. For some reason rape is more popular in countries where patriarchy seems to still rule. In South Africa, it is rifer in Lesotho and Botswana interestingly those two places still have very staunch belief systems relating to women.
My question is are the rules laid on women by society invariably communicating that a woman is owned which indirectly means a man can do as he pleases with her whether she likes it or not? I have been trying to understand the psyche in believing that such a brutal crime is considered almost normal. Is it the way boys are raised different from girls? Like telling a girl to sit properly if her legs are open and asking if she is a boy since she is sitting like that.
An incident comes flashing back of when I was 10 or so. Was visiting my grandmother in the Eastern Cape and there was a fire lit, it so happened that it was cold so we proceeded to go sit by the fire with my relatives. Because I was cold and didn’t want to sit on the floor, I took a log and sat on it, which meant I had to have my legs up, to balance.
A relative around my age, told me to sit properly. Mind you, the skirt automatically dropped in between my legs as if I was wearing pants. Told him to leave me alone. I am cold and honestly, I wasn’t used to such rules for women. Before I could finish, he took an ash and threw it in-between my legs and it burnt a hole in my new skirt. That, that attitude I believe is one of the reasons why we have so many sexual and physical abuse problems. Those little things send messages to young boys that a woman must be controlled and forced to do as the man wants even if it hurts her. That they are the morality watchers on women and if they say it is bad then it is bad.
Besides the statistics, I also realised a trend amongst men that are misogynists. They love women or should I say lust over women a lot. They believe a woman is a sexual object, she is good for sexual intercourse mostly, and to care for him but there is zero respect for females.
If you ask or listen to their speech, it is often derogatory. One in particular that I know, that has many lovers and never bonds with them in anyway except by inviting them to his bedroom, said, “we should never have a female as president of our country.” I laughed in disgust because in my observance of men that are fond of women for sexual purposes only, often there is no respect or honour for women. To them women are good for nothing except to lay with them and have them cook and clean for them. Sounds very absurd when you give deep thought to it but because men are raised in that continuous cycle of women abuse, to them it seems normal.
Alternatively, could porn be to blame because it has been discovered that South Africa has the most viewers when compared to other countries, which indirectly means those ideals are transferred into how men think and view women? Therefore them being promiscuous shows their sexual prowess, which means they are powerful if they have more partners that they are sexual with. Therefore, if a woman refuses to have intercourse it means she is not acknowledging him and wanting the man to show his power since it is said rape is all about power. Quite puzzling I must say.
Now on the other hand of rape being blamed on women not “covering” up enough, when a child is raped what is the motive then. I even see little girls being told to hide their private parts and wear tights under skirts. They are told to mind themselves because they will be raped. As a grown woman if I would walk alone in a dead quiet place, my first thought would be rape before being robbed because it is so rife. It gets more mind boggling since infants are abused. What drives these men to do such in an infant? Of late, we are discovering that older women are being raped too by younger men, which doesn’t quite add up because rape is often portrayed as an offense that is driven by a woman’s sexual appeal. So in a case of infants and grandmothers being sexually abused what do we blame then? A girl child is raised with such fear of rape but it seems we fail to train young boys to value women or threaten them with jail if they ever think of doing such things to women?
So the crux of the matter is are patriarchy and the raising of men to believe that you must show your power by exerting force on a woman if she refuses to do as you please to blame? . Some people blame the bible for patriarchy but I disagree. Nowhere does it promote that men should abuse women. The scripture says, “Ephesians 5:24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything.28 In this same way, Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies.” ’If you love yourself, you cannot do harm or oppress. The bible cannot be said to promote such violence towards women. Therefore, what are we saying is the problem, why are we not as a nation finding and dealing with the root cause of this national crisis?
To go off topic a bit I have proven it with time that African and Asian Indian beliefs are also designed to be very oppressive to women. Being expected to do everything in the household, to tending to the man’s needs, bringing an income, taking care of the children and all their daily needs. That alone is on the brink of abuse if it has not been classified as abuse already. Those minor things contribute indirectly to such behaviour. How can a woman work the whole day but be expected to carry on doing everything alone while everyone is resting? Nevertheless, will leave that for another day.
The question now is parent, guardian, society what we are going to do to teach boys differently, to value women, and see them as people to be loved and not forced to do things? To know that no means no and not yes disguised as a no. To be dubbed as a nation with the highest rates in rape is appalling to say the least that must change.
Can we, rewrite a story of love instead? Re write history. Moreover, society must stop glamourizing having multiple sexual partners because that itself is rooted in believing that the more females you have intercourse with makes you king when actually you are an escapist and in need of help yourself.
May we rewrite our story, together and break this cycle?
A love for words, if they were edible I would probably have them for breakfast, lunch and supper. An observer and with a mind like a sponge, a Public relations graduate, Creative Director and Founder of Ambidextrous Empire a Pr and Media company. Assistant Editor of Mjita Magazine and owner of Ona cleaning supplies. Aspiring author, radio/Tv host and filmmaker. An entrepreneurial and philanthropic spirit and a never die attitude, I hit the ground running and I don’t wait for things to come to me, I go after them.
Best personality trait is being easy to talk to and great sense of humour as tough as a cookie I am. If I don’t make you laugh or think about something differently you will leave motivated but you will most definitely leave me impacted somehow. They say I am loud; I blame theatre for that, those training sessions taught me to be audible much but I love it, I live large and expressively so ask my husband and toddler.