Rape voyeurs are almost as grotesque as the crime itself
The Times Editorial: The story of the repeated rape of a mentally handicapped teenager by a group of young men has horrified South Africans.
The details are utterly tragic. A teenage girl with the mental ability of a five-year-old goes missing for three weeks. Finally, a cellphone recording surfaces with the voices of the young men gang-raping her. Her mother apparently neglects to notify the police, because her daughter has gone missing before and she is just waiting for her to return home.
Now the men have been arrested, as has the man with whom the teenager was found in Soweto. When he realised community members and police officers were looking for her, he handed the girl to the police.
One of those arrested for the gang-rape is a minor.
But there is an even more grotesque aspect to this tragic story of a child with mental disabilities being failed by her parent and violated by the gang of rapists.
As news spread of the video of the rape, the journalist who broke the story, Mandy Wiener of 702 Eyewitness News, tweeted her disgust about the fact that she had received requests for the footage. Clearly these were not requests from media wanting to follow up on the story.
Yesterday, Leslie Sedibe, Proudly South African CEO, expressed his outrage at the incident. His statement also contained a plea to South Africans not to view the footage.
"What have we become when children rape children and we as fellow South Africans stand by and watch something so evil, cruel, callous and inhumane? Even watching such a video after the fact is atrocious and abominable," Sedibe said.
This is the obscene part of this story - the idea that what happened to this girl became the source of titillation.
What indeed, as Sedibe asks, have we become when we become voyeurs - and to an extent, third-hand witnesses - to this horrific crime? This is not the response of a compassionate, caring society.