Looking from the outside in - people, place and practice

Monday, February 11, 2013

Bredasdorp rape: How do we punish for such an act?

Warning: The content of this article is disturbing and may upset sensitive readers.

On Friday 8 February, a third suspect was arrested in connection with the rape, torture and death of teenager Anene Booysen. The trial is set to start this week.

‘Her throat had been slit, all her fingers and both legs were broken, a broken glass bottle had been lodged in her, her stomach had been cut open... That which was supposed to be inside her body lay strewn across the scene where they found her,’ Anene’s aunt, Wilma Brooks, told reporters from News 24.

Cut open from her stomach to her genitals. Her mutilated body left to die on a construction site. Does this gruesome incident remind us that South Africa is in the midst of a gender war/ violence epidemic? I think it should.

What do we say about such an appalling act? This was not killing for the sake of money or for any reason other than for the sake of torturing a female body. To the point that her womanhood, the essence of her as a human, and her life were taken away from her. How do we start to deal with the aftermath? And with the realization that, yes, such acts really do happen in South Africa. And they don’t happen infrequently, they happen all the time - some are just more publicized than others.

So what is an appropriate punishment? Is there such a thing? Since news of this atrocity broke, people have been calling for the death sentence to be reinstated. This, of course, would go against South Africa’s Constitution.

Yet, how do we deal with the culture of violence against women, which is now obviously spiralling out of control? The answer cannot just be ‘life in prison’. We have to get to the core, the root of the evil, which will continue to plague our society if we do not act. And fast.

Let us know what you think.


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