In November 2009, I came across the news story of a teenaged boy (18) who had raped all three of his siblings , aged between 9 and 13, apparently as “punishment”.
The story was foul, and so represented much that's wrong-headed and broken in our society. Now that we have the results of a study showing that SA children are most at risk for rape, it's time to look at this case again - perhaps someone with authority somewhere will find the clues they need to change a trend that has the potential to wreck an entire generation.
What had the family done to deserve such punishment? Well, it is alleged that the teenager's father is currently in prison after his wife reported him to the authorities for raping his daughters.
By some twisted logic, the teenager feels it is the victims' fault that their father is incarcerated. Besides raping both his sisters and young brother himself, the teenager has admitted to holding down his 13- year-old sister while a friend raped her a week later. Which means that at least one person outside the family knew what was going on here.
Even though I just wanted to look away from what seemed like just another snapshot of hell, I had a sense that this was a very important story – but I wasn't sure why. Now I think I’m beginning to understand.
Because, if rape and sexual assault – even on your children, even on your baby sisters and baby brothers - are not viewed as an actual crime by one quarter of the male population, who is going to enforce those good laws? And what's to stop the 16-day programme from just sliding off of their backs, perhaps even triggering a backlash against the very people it is meant to protect? Like the backlash that hit these children when their mother reported their father for raping them?