Fighting the scourge of sexual assault and violence
Cape Town - With April designated as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, many people around the world are doing their part to raise awareness in their communities.
The campaign aims to clear the misconceptions around sexual assault by hosting seminars and events that highlight the problem in society and encourage survivors to gain their confidence back.
Operations manager at Rape Crisis, Barbara Williams, clarified some misconceptions around issues such as consent and the different types of sexual offences.
“Consent constitutes permission for something to happen or agreement to do something. The distinctions between sexual violence, sexual assault, and sexual harassment are important to understand. Regardless of the victim's connection to the perpetrator, sexual assault includes any sexual act or effort to procure a sexual act through violence or force, actions to traffic a person, or actions aimed against a person's sexuality.
“When a person's conduct is marked by unwanted and improper sexual comments or physical advances in a workplace or other professional or social setting, this is known as sexual harassment. On the other hand, sexual assault occurs when someone deliberately and inappropriately sexually assaults another person.”
According to the third quarter national crime statistics released by Police Minister Bheki Cele (MP), there was a 5% increase from October to December last year for sexual offences. 12 218 people were also raped between October and December last year. This is an increase of 181 cases, amounting to a 1.5% increase compared to the previous reporting period.
Over 4 900 of the rapes took place at the home of the victim or the home of the rapist, 570 were domestic-violence related and 547 rape cases in this category, involved female victims and 23 were males. Inanda, Umlazi in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape’s Lusikisiki police stations recorded the highest incidents of rape.
In honour of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, it's also important to recognise men such as Asanda Ndlebe and Radius Masukume who stood by women through an ordeal even though it meant they had to risk their lives.
Ndlebe came to the rescue of a young lady who was being sexually assaulted by her partner. He suffered horrific injuries, leaving him blind in one eye. Ndlebe explained that he could not watch the lady be taken by force. He was obliged to help the lady because he felt like she was his sister.
Ndlebe added: “I think we should stand up together, collectively as men and protect our women because one should never assault women or children. We must refrain from comments such as ’women are after our monies’ because that devalues them. There should also be more organisations where men discuss these issues and teach young men the values of women in our in our communities.”
Masukume, who is a father of six, remembers the ordeal like it was yesterday. Masukume saved a 45-year-old woman who was being raped by two young men. He was stabbed multiple times while fighting them off.
“Because I have children back home, I could not leave her there, knowing she's someone's mother or daughter and even besides, back home, we are taught never to hurt a woman. So it just felt wrong to see these men hurt the lady,” said Masukume.
“We need to be the change we want to see in the community as well as the world. We should create a culture of consent. In doing so, we should challenge myths and stereotypes around rape and sexual violence. Challenge inappropriate rape jokes or gender-based violence jokes in our social groups as well as amongst family or friends at gatherings. Nobody asks to be raped, and we as a society need to learn and realise that. The most important thing for us to know and also to do, is to support a survivor in their journey,” said Williams.