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By Brian Sokutu

Senior Print Journalist

It’s time to do something about rapes in SA

We can’t fold our arms and allow ourselves to be held hostage by a few savages as if we are living in the Wild West or Sodom and Gomorrah.

Once again, we have expressed outrage in the aftermath of harrowing incidents of rape that have gripped the country.

Still fresh in our minds is the recent Silverton Dros incident in which a seven-year-old girl was allegedly raped by a 20-year-old man, said to have brazenly stalked the girl from the children’s play area of the restaurant to the toilet.

Equally shocking has been the Mthatha hospital occurrence that saw a bogus doctor entering a maternity ward in the morning – under the pretext of “doing medical rounds” to check on patients – then deceiving a 17-year-old mother who had just given birth, asking her to undress before allegedly raping her.

Not long ago, we were enraged by the attack of a Johannesburg mother who was raped by a taxi driver at gun-point in the presence of her young son.

A similar fate was suffered by a young schoolgirl at the hands of three Mpumalanga taxi drivers three months ago.

She had waited for a taxi from school to home, which drove from Highveld Mall to drop some passengers and continued on its way to Ben Fleur.

The girl is said to have told the drivers that she wanted to get off, but was told she could not do that. Alone in the taxi with three drivers, one of them came to sit near her and placed a cloth on her face, rendering her unconscious.

All these happenings have left us helplessly shocked in disbelief due to what has become of South Africa.

Despite mounting protest action and taking to social media, with government, political parties and organs of civil society issuing hard-hitting statements of condemnation, the scourge continues unabated.

An astronomical figure of 50 108 sexual offences were recorded in 2017-18, up from 49 660 in 2016-17 – the majority being rapes, according to police.

While chemical castration has been suggested, it is important to understand that rape is not merely a sexual act but it is a form of violence.

Implications of rape – a forced sexual activity – can lead to serious physical and psychological trauma.

According to doctors who have treated rape patients, bruises, lacerations, broken bones, sprains, soreness and anal bleeding are some of injuries suffered by victims.

Other risks include sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy, with emotional disorder effects including depression, turning to substance abuse, self-harm, eating and post-traumatic stress disorder.

What is to be done?

We can’t fold our arms and allow ourselves to be held hostage by a few savages as if we are living in the Wild West or Sodom and Gomorrah.

Pushing lawmakers whom we have voted into power to amend laws to ensure that rape is classified similarly as attempted murder and bringing back the death penalty, will go a long way to restore normality.

Tomorrow it may not be the little girl in Silverton, the schoolgirl in Mpumalanga, the young mother in Mthatha or the Johannesburg taxi commuter.

It may hit closer to home.

Brian Sokutu.

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