Am I next?

1 in 4 women in South Africa have been, or will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. And if that statistic isn’t shocking enough already, then maybe putting things into context, will: in your group of, say, 8 friends, that’s 2 of you. 

This week, South Africans are in a state of shock and mourning over yet another rape and murder of a young woman. Uyinene Mrwetyana, a 19-year-old first year Film and Media student at UCT (The University of Cape Town), went missing 6 days ago. She disappeared after making a trip to the local Clareinch Post office in Cape Town, to fetch a parcel. Yesterday, news broke that the man responsible for her disappearance was an actual post office employee, who lured her to a room in the back, where he assaulted and killed her, bludgeoning her with a scale. 

I never knew Nene personally, but you don’t have to know victims of violent acts like this personally to be able to feel at least some form of sadness and sympathy. 

I’m exhausted. I’m so sick and tired of hearing stories like this. Nene’s story is just one of many, things like this happen all the time here. But each and every single time I hear stories like this, it feels as if a bottomless pit has appeared where my insides should be. 

I’m so sick and tired of being sick and tired. 

I’m tired of the long lists of precautions girls are forced to memorise in order to stay safe, and not attract attention to themselves. How many times must it be said before it’s actually heard?? Rape victims aren’t the problem here, the men raping them are!!!!!! 

Our society continues to refuse to hold men accountable, and continues to refuse to question the way in which boys are being raised that they think feeling so entitled to women’s bodies is okay. 

Why is literally nothing being done?? 

I think what made this story in particular so deeply unsettling, was the fact that this was a girl who went to the same university that a number of my friends do, that this was a girl who was the same age as my own sister is, that this girl could so easily have been someone that you or I knew personally (or actually did know personally, for those of you reading this who knew her). But we shouldn’t wait to be closely affected by a situation in order to care or to stand up and do something about it, or at the very least, talk about it. 

I’m at a complete loss here, these stories remind me of how defenseless and helpless and vulnerable women are within our society. 

I’m so tired of men being so quick to remind us that #notallmenaretrash when they don’t use the same breath and the same volume to condemn horrific acts like this or speak against the harmless talk that contributes to rampant rape culture. Guess what? You’re part of the problem. Not for being a partaker of these vicious acts and crimes, but by being completely complacent about it and fueling the culture that surrounds it. I’m not asking you to become Alexander McQueen (Arrow) overnight but wow, would it kill boys/men to call out their friends whenever they victim blame someone or make sexist or derogatory comments about women? FYI, she wasn’t asking for it. 

I’m also appalled by the lack of responses from Christians/people from the church about incidents like these. Church leaders are quick to condemn things like the legality of abortion in the US, online, but stay completely silent about horrific, violent and devastating crimes like these going on in their own country. How can you claim to care about human life without, y’know, actually caring about human life?? I haven’t seen enough posts about prayer or anguish. No posts calling it like it is about what happened, that it was wrong, that it is unacceptable and that men need to do better. A person’s morals really must be skewed to be able to publicly decry one “evil” and completely excuse another. Surely bludgeoning a girl to death is worth bringing attention to with the same fervour and disdain. 

Explaining away rape and rape behaviour is lazy, passive, insensitive and doesn’t in any way hold rapists and murderers accountable for their actions. In fact, it’s dangerous, contributes to rape culture and is part of the problem. 

Explaining it away doesn’t make it go away. Call it what it is, call it by its name: violence, gender-based violence to be exact. These acts are vicious, inhumane, heartless, and wrong. And men should do better. Not in a it’s-every-man’s-fault way, but in a look-out-for-your-female-counterparts and hold-your-friends-accountable way. 

My feelings are scattered all over the place. But I hope that one day, we’ll get to see the statistics go down, and that we stop ignoring the link between rape culture and rape itself, and the way that it is tearing our communities apart and destroying the lives of women. 

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