The gang rape and subsequent video of the crime which went viral in Soweto has South Africa up in arms at the moment. And rightly so – no person should be subjected to what that girl was subjected too. The rape itself is an horrendous thing to endure, but to have it recorded and watched by hundreds is just the worst kind of insult to add to the injury.

 

There are cries on all social media for the teenage rapists to be strung up by their delicate bits, for castration, for them to be locked up forever, for the death penalty to be reinstated especially for them. I understand this anger and I do think the boys must be punished – what they did is the worst kind of awful.

 

BUT – I think we need to look at the society we are part of, even over here in our air conned expensive houses and plush motor cars, that can created teenage boys who think this is okay, and other teenagers in their droves who want to watch the video of this kind of thing. Mandy Wiener said on 702 that she, as an adult and journalist, found it hard to watch and that she was the only person in the office able to watch it all; and that she did so only because she had to. Grown ups balk at watching it when teenagers, and younger probably, watch it for fun! This cannot be a reflection of the lack of moral fibre in the kids but rather a reflection of the awfulness they consider ordinary or normal.

 

These rapist children were not born evil. These kids watching the video and forwarding it were not born with a decreased sense of horror. They were babies like every other baby in the country. Only they were unlucky enough to be born into poverty and grow up in a deprived society. How many of these rapists know their fathers I wonder? How many of them have mothers who are up and out of the house before day break to travel to rich suburbs to clean houses? How many of them had the chance to attend a school with windows and desks and electronic equipment, never mind a sober teacher every day?

 

I am not saying this excuses their behaviour – but as long as we keep letting kids grow up like this we are part of the reason why they go so far off the rails that gang rape becomes a fun thing to do or watch on a boring Friday evening.

 

What can we do you may say. The problem is the governments, not ours. It is society not us. It’s not my fault.

 

We are society. And the government clearly gives less of a shit about the poor than they do about wives and mansions and parties. If we want the society we live in to be safer for all then we have to do something.

 

Do you know where your domestic worker’s children go to school? Do you know that many government schools have school fees of lower than R500 a year? R500 to you and me is a great deal less than it is to a domestic worker/office cleaner/petrol attendant.

Pay for one kid to go to school. Pay your cleaning lady’s electricity bill so her kids can do homework by real light and not candle light. Make sure the receptionist at work has enough food to feed her kids.

 

Maybe 100 of us have to try for there to be a different future for 1 kid. Maybe those are the odd.  But if none of us try then there will be no change. And if 1000 of us try, 10 futures will change. And all the people that child interacts with may have a different future too.

 

Idealistic you may say. But what other choice do we have other than to try! I know I am not prepared to sit by and allow my society, my country to breed kids who rape and watch rape and laugh. It is unfair on both the rape survivor and the rapists.  8 young people’s lives were ruined when that rape took place – and countless others have been exposed to gruesome images they are one day going to wish they could erase from their memories.

 

What are we going to do about it?

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