Apathy and poverty are feeding rape beast: iLIVE
Listening to Eyewitness News's rape awareness campaign left me with one word for my mood - militant.
Rape is fuelled by religion, culture and, in South Africa, socioeconomic factors - but don't forget our apathy, which perpetuates the beast.
The reality is that rape has and will always be part of human existence. But it has become an epidemic here.
Religious and cultural attitudes towards women are a serious problem. Boys grow up being taught that they are superior to women, and girls are told that they should be subservient to men.
But the biggest problem we face is poverty. Poor areas are breeding grounds for crime. There, children grow up in squalor, among gangsters, criminals and drug addicts, and have no hope. They become numb to daily scenes and experiences of violence.
Families sleep five, six or even seven in a one-room shack, exposing children, who have no understanding of what they are seeing, to sex. In many cases, they have no role models to teach them.
I am not saying rape does not occur in more affluent areas - it does. But most of our social decay, which is robbing our children's futures, is unfolding in poorer areas, where resources are lacking.
Rape crisis centres, private HIV prevention programmes, counselling facilities and even the simple act of reporting a rape, which are readily available to the "wealthy", aren't easily accessible to poorer people.
Yes, there are incredible NGOs that try to fill the gap, but they are underfunded. Also, they don't get support from Joe Soap, who today is crying in his car after hearing about heinous crimes against women, but next week will be crying because he can't make his Friday golf game.
Take a stand and get involved. The first step is to alleviate poverty. Upliftment will provide the platform for repairing the damage that has been and is being done.
Upliftment includes the provision of:
- Housing (with sanitation, water and electricity) in safe, policed areas;
- Free access to medical facilities;
- Free trauma counselling;
- Adequate schooling; and
- Community projects to drive social change.
The only way we are going to achieve those aims is by driving our government into doing something about our social ills.
Do remember, however, that the government is not completely to blame - apartheid is the other culprit.
But, after 18 years in power, one would imagine that the government could have done more by now.
Our government needs to fix our problems because it is in charge of funds, facilitates and infrastructure. It needs to mobilise and start placing South Africans first.
If you really want to help bring our sickening levels of rape and crime down, start placing pressure on the government for action. Write letters, phone the presidential hotline, stand outside parliament and scream and, most important, make your vote count.
A government can only be in power as long as the people want it.
Take out that fancy iPhone and use the internet that you have such easy access to and broaden your horizons. Look up rape-care centres and NGOs, give them a ring and offer your assistance.
No matter who you are, what you believe, who your god is, what your skin colour is, what your social status is, if you are wealthy or poor, we all must remember that life on Earth is a web to which every living organism is connected, whether we want to accept that or not.
We are a collective unit that is South Africa, and we owe it to each other to try to make the change.