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Mon Jan 26 06:22:12 SAST 2015

Anene's memory must spur the nation into action

The Times Editorial | 12 February, 2013 00:27

The Times Editorial: The appallingly cruel rape, torture and murder of 17-year-old Anene Booysen in Bredasdorp has exposed the ugly underbelly of South African life and the bitter reality that women and children are frequently preyed upon by heartless thugs.

The police no longer keep separate statistics on rape but, according to their 2011-2012 crime statistics, just under 65000 sexual offences, including rape and attempted rape, were reported nationally - half of them involving children.

Even these figures are unlikely to capture the true picture because many victims are too terrified to report their assailants for fear of victimisation or being put through the wringer by an often inefficient and uncaring criminal justice system.

Probably because of its unbridled savagery, the shocking assault on Anene made world headlines and appears to have galvanised politicians, community and religious leaders, and ordinary people like few cases before it.

It is to be hoped that, in the months ahead, the spotlight will be shone very brightly on the terrible crime of rape and why so many of our men are guilty of it. All decent men and women need to add their voice to the groundswell of revulsion against those who - in urban slums, rural ghettoes and suburban homes - believe that it is somehow okay to have their way with defenceless women and children.

Pressure needs to be brought to bear on those who lead us to put the fight against the abuse of women and children at the core of their campaigns.

Effective messages against the scourge of rape and women abuse should be taught at schools. But such campaigns will not succeed unless dysfunctional schools are repaired so that the children who pass through their gates will at least have a better shot at life.

Specialised courts that deal with sexual offences are going to have to be brought back so that perpetrators can be brought to book speedily and effectively.

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