Durban - Sipho was only six when he raped a girl two years older than he was. He did not rape her because he understood sex, but because he had just watched his 19-year-old role model rape the child.
As Sipho had no positive male influence in his life and was effectively raising himself while his poor, ill-educated mother worked to put food on their table, he was forced to find his own influences. This 19-year-old from his community was the man he chose to model his life on.
Sipho’s story is just one of many that Val Melis, a senior public prosecutor at the Durban Magistrate’s Court, believes is indicative of a growing problem. Many children’s home and social environments are fuelling sexual and physical violence against women and children.
She was addressing Diakonia Council of Churches guests at the Berea United Congregational Church in Durban on Wednesday on gender-based violence and the urgent need to socialise boys. Speaking from her experience working in the field of child abuse and gender-based violence for most of her 23 years as a prosecutor, Melis said South Africans were “sitting on a ticking time bomb” when it came to boys perpetrating violence towards girls.
“Many of us, as parents, have abrogated our God-given responsibility to parent and raise our children. We expect everyone but ourselves to raise our children and then are quick to blame the government when things go wrong,” she said.