Cape Town - Principals and parents in Mitchells Plain have raised the alarm about a new primary school game called “Rape, rape”, in which schoolboys simulate rape with girls whom they chase and catch.
There are fears that the game will make rape seem normal, says the Mitchells Plain School Governing Body Association, which represents 90 schools in the area.
It says about 150 cases of rape, attempted rape and sexual harassment at primary and high schools have been brought to its attention in the past year.
These had been reported to the police, the association’s chairman, Quinton Goodall, said.
Told about the game and asked to comment, the Western Cape Department of Education said it was outraged by it and would investigate.
A Mitchells Plain principal, who asked not to be named, said the game was being played by boys and girls as young as 10.
He had been horrified to discover that the girls were willing participants.
“Children do not understand the implications.
“The game desensitises them to rape, which can have dire consequences for society in the long run.”
During the game, the girls were given a chance to run before the boys began to chase them.
When a girl was caught, the boy would pin her down on the ground and simulate rape for 10 to 20 seconds. Once the girl had been “raped”, she was out of the game. The game would continue until the last girl had been “raped”.
“Rules of the game differ from school to school.”
It was a “real and scary” possibility that the behaviour associated with the “rape” game would carry on into the child’s adulthood, the principal said.
“In high schools, we are seeing at least one girl a week come in and complain that she has been sexually harassed. The reports are growing and sexual assaults are increasing.
“This game is worrying and can be extremely detrimental to society.”
Colleen Horswell, chairwoman of the Mitchells Plain Education Forum, said parents were to blame for the game’s inception. Parents needed to be more “proactive” in their children’s lives.
“Children act out what they see happening in society. It is the role of the parent to educate their children and teach them right from wrong.
“Now is the time that parents should step in and take responsibility to end this trend,” Horswell said.
Last year, the Department of Basic Education launched a campaign to teach rape awareness to about 10 million school pupils across South Africa.
The campaign was officially launched in Mitchells Plain as a response to the growing number of rapes there.
Goodall said the campaign was continuing to be run in Mitchells Plain and had increased awareness about rape.
Rape Crisis director Kathleen Dey said although South Africa had a worrying rape culture, children playing the game did not necessarily make them potential rapists.
The organisation runs a Birds and Bees sex education campaign at high schools. She was shocked at the number of pupils who thought rape was “not that serious”.
“They are ignorant of the psychological effects of rape,” Dey said.
“I was startled to discover how many pupils thought recovering from rape was as easy as getting over any other injury. It is not.”
The Department of Basic Education condemned the game and encouraged those aware of it to report it to the police, spokesman Elijah Mahlangu said on Monday.
In March, a 5-year-old Grade R pupil was raped by two Grade 2 boys outside her Mitchells Plain school. She had been waiting for her lift home.
Her father said the arrangement was that she wait in an office at the school, but on that day a staff member had told her to leave the building.
The girl’s father said the boys had told his daughter they would kill her if she reported them. She had told a teacher the next day.