Teachers Allegedly Find Video of Student Being Raped

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Normal Teachers Allegedly Find Video of Student Being Raped

Post by Wrapitup on Sat Nov 20, 2010 9:25 am

posted by: Laura Smith-Gary 7 days ago

Last Thursday, a 15-year-old student was relaxing in the schoolyard of her Johannesberg high school with a female friend. If she was nervous about anything, it was probably her upcoming exams. Her family members say that Jules High School, which the girl's mother had carefully chosen and was paying nearly half her monthly income for, had sent all the students outside without supervision because they had no exam to complete that day.

The girl's family says three boys offered the two girls a drink of Sprite. (Her family is the source of her story at the moment because she is reportedly "too distraught to talk.") Immediately after drinking the soda, they became dizzy and drowsy -- the girl says she is sure they were drugged. Then, the boys allegedly dragged the girl into an adjacent field and gang-raped her. Several other students reportedly watched the attack, and filmed it on their cell phones.

Victim-Blaming and Laughing at Rape
After surviving this ordeal, the girl found that her school seemed more interested in protecting the boys she said had raped her than in helping her. In fact, she found that her teachers were more than willing to participate in victimizing her. Not only did they make no effort to curb those who were sending cell phone videos of the attack to each other, the girl's sister says she came upon a group of teachers watching the cell phone footage and laughing. According to a Commission for Gender Equality spokesman quoted in BBC News, they found it "hilarious." The girl's mother also says teachers at the school told her she "deserved what happened to her because she was drunk."

While the teachers laughed and sneered, administrators and disciplinary officials twiddled their thumbs. The Commission for Gender Equality spokesman said that the school took no action because they didn't want to "upset" the boys during exams. The girl's uncle has told local newspapers (City Press and the Times) that the school headmaster was told of the attack right away and refused to do anything or even call the police. Instead, he allegedly said he doubted she had really been drugged and raped, and that if she had been she should go to a police station.

Could the Video Go Viral?
According to local press, the girl is receiving trauma counseling and medical attention, including emergency contraception and anti-retrovirals to try to stave off a possible HIV infection.

Unfortunately, it is likely that her ordeal is far from over. She is participating in an investigation and may be a key trial witness, which can be a grueling, humilitating, cruel process. Perhaps even more ominous is the possibility that cell phone videos of her alleged rape could spread. Videos are apparently still circulating in her school, and according to her family her fellow students are already using Facebook and Twitter to criticize her and gossip about the attack. Internet-ready videos can too easily lead to situations like this, in which photos of a Canadian girl being gang-raped were posted on Facebook and quickly went viral.

If video documentation of her alleged rape becomes available over the internet, the young Johannesberg woman may be subjected to violation after violation, as she is faced not only with strangers viewing her rape but also more victim-blaming and ridicule.

Brought Up To Rape
It's no surprise that schoolboys in South Africa are capable of rape. In a 2009 study done in South Africa, one in four men interviewed admitted to being a rapist and 73% of the admitted rapists said they'd coerced someone into sex before they turned twenty. This country is so thick with men raping women that an inventor came up with a female condom with teeth in the desperate hope of finding a rape deterrent. Lesbians, children and babies, and sex workers are all common targets, but no one is safe from sexual violence. A study by Interpol estimates that one in two South African women is raped during her life.

There is no simple answer for why rape is so prevalent in South Africa. However, rape survivors, anti-rape advocates, and even rapists see a culture of machismo at the root of the problem: boys are socialized to believe they are entitled to sex from women, and that they aren't manly unless they take sex by force. Dumisani Rebombo, who gang-raped a girl when he was 15 and says he now bitterly regrets his actions, says that before the rape, "I was constantly jeered for not being man enough." After he and a friend raped a teenage girl in their village, "My friends sang and clapped as if we had done something right."

It's easy to see how this attitude played out in the current case: three teenage boys allegedly raped a classmate, and their behavior was affirmed by the responses of both their fellow students and their teachers. It was funny that they attacked a 15-year-old girl. It was their right. It was entertainment for everyone else.

These attitudes are far from unique to South Africa. For just one example from the United States, read Ximena Ramirez's post about a high school cheerleader who was kicked off her squad for refusing to shout her rapist's name while cheering for the basketball team. However, judging by statistics and anecdotal information, in South Africa the "culture of rape"  is one of the worst in the world.

Seeking Justice
While nothing can undo the pain this young woman has experienced, she may at least get some measure of justice. Perversely, her school's callousness has made the case a priority by stirring outrage across the country.

The girl quickly identified two of the boys she says were involved in the attack, and provided information on a third, as yet unidentified boy. The two boys she identified are 14 and 16, and attend local high schols. Charges have not yet been filed, and yesterday the two boys were released from police custody, leading some news organizations to report that "charges were dropped." But province police assured City Press that the investigation is still being vigorously pursued and they are working to build an watertight case before bringing it to court.

The teachers may also be face consequences. The Times reports that the Education Department is hiring an independent investigatior to determine whether and how the teachers, school officials, and pupils involved should be disciplined. BBC News also quotes South Africa's minister for women, children, and people with disabilities as saying, "The Children's Act [more here] requires all people in positions of authority who suspect that child abuse may be taking place to report such incidents, and this includes teachers."

Anti-rape advocates say that less than 1% of reported rapes in South Africa are successfully prosecuted.

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Normal UPDATE: Alleged Rape Victim Charged With Rape

Post by Wrapitup on Sat Nov 20, 2010 9:26 am

posted by: Laura Smith-Gary 1 day ago


Last week I wrote about a case in which a South African schoolgirl reported that she had been drugged and gang-raped, and that the attack had been filmed by other students and mocked by her teachers. The story has now taken a painful turn. After maintaining she'd been raped during a joint appearance with her alleged rapists in the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court, during a second appearance she said that the sex had been consensual.

The National Prosecuting Authority then made the controversial decision to charge all three teenagers with statutory rape. Under South Africa's Sexual Offences Act, anyone having consensual intercourse with a child under 16 is prosecutable, even if they themselves are underage. Not unnaturally, this decision has stirred shock and anger across the country.

I'll come back to the absurdity and cruelty of the mutual statutory rape charges soon, but first I want to briefly consider the girl's retraction of her accusation.

It's possible the girl's initial report was a lie. Rape is occasionally falsely reported -- the statistics on how frequently this happens in the U.S. are hotly disputed, and I couldn't find any at all for South Africa. The report could have been false in this case. If so, it illustrates the importance of keeping the names of accused rapists, especially minors, out of the media and pursuing investigations as quickly and honestly as possible.

She could also have been telling the truth about the rape, but lying about some other details. According to unnamed sources in one paper (so grain of salt), her bloodwork showed no traces of date-rape drugs. Given some initial reports that she'd been drinking, perhaps she was under the influence of alcohol instead of drugs. If something like that is the case, one part of her story being untrue doesn't necessarily mean she wasn't raped, but it could have been used to discredit her and pressure her into saying she'd had consensual sex.

It's also possible she was bullied and shamed into withdrawing her accusations. Remember the teachers laughing and saying she deserved it? The students filming it on their cell phones and passing around the videos? The fact that she was facing a judicial system where the vast majority of accused rapists walk? That a quarter of the men surveyed in the country freely admit to raping someone? That in South Africa gang rape is reportedly a common form of male bonding? That the police only took the boys into custody after a country-wide outcry, though she immediately identified them? That she was brought in to face the magistrate at the same time as her alleged rapists, and heard them both say that she was a willing participant?

This is a country where the current President was elected only a few years after being acquitted of rape by a trial in which his accuser's reputation was savaged. In fact, his accuser was attacked and abused so much that she went into hiding for three months before the trial, and in 2007 she and her mother were granted asylum in the Netherlands because she feared for her life. Obviously, a case involving a prominent politician is an extreme example because he has a built-in supporter base, but it points to the kind of treatment women can be subjected to if they accuse someone of rape.

All this doesn't mean she was definitely telling the truth in her initial reports, but it does mean that even if she was telling the truth she had ample reason to retract her accusations. If the best you can hope for from standing by a rape accusation is continuing shame, blame, and scorn, there's very little incentive to stand by it.

Prosecuting These Teenagers For Sex is A Terrible, Terrible Idea
And then there's the fact the National Prosecuting Authority decided to charge all three of them -- alleged rapists and alleged rape victim -- with statutory rape.

A source told South African paper Times Live that the decision was made to make "an example" of the three students and to show the public the Authority was invested in cracking down on (consensual!) underage sex. I understand that many people don't want their underage children having sex, but to try to solve the problem by making canoodling teenagers criminals is laughably ineffective, and framing the offense as mutual "statutory rape" is logically incoherent.

The NPA is positioning itself as a moral champion, standing up against teenagers having sex in schools. What this looks like, though, is brutalizing children. If the girl wasn't raped, the boys who just coped with the terror of being falsely accused of rape are now facing charges for having consensual sex. I can't figure out exactly what the penalties are for statutory rape -- they're surely lighter than for non-statutory rape, but there are penalties, including being registered as a sex offender in a database available to employers.

The NPA's decision to prosecute consensual underage sex is telling the boys that the difference between raping someone and having consensual sex is...not much, since they're charged with sexual assault anyway. Part of the senselessness of prosecuting mutual "statutory rape" is that it takes the presence or absence of consent out of the definition of what it means to rape. This is especially serious in a country where it's reported that 16% of men who say though know a woman who has been raped say she "enjoyed" it and "asked for it."

The damage doesn't even come close to stopping with the boys. As a spokesperson for the Child's Right Project told BBC News, "[T]he prosecutors are sending a horrific and harmful message to other rape survivors." The message is clear: don't report your rape, because you may well end up not only a target of your schoolmates and teachers, you could be arrested. It sounds eerily like women's lives under fundamentalist Islamic law, where they can be prosecuted for adultery if they report rape. Whether the girl was originally telling the truth about the rape or not, the message will be heard by every girl and woman considering reporting her teenage rapist.

And if she was actually raped, exactly the way she said it happened or not, prosecuting her is both unjust and horrifyingly cruel. This is a child who may have just been through hell, and she may now have to go on trial for having "consensual underage sex" with her attackers. I can't find the words to articulate how terrifying, humiliating, and heart-stoppingly devastating an ordeal that would be for a rape survivor who is already so traumatized she withdrew her accusations. Again, we don't know if she was truly raped or not, but to dismiss the fact that it's possible -- to believe one statement she made on her second trip to court to face her alleged rapists over all the other statements she's made -- is ridiculous.

The outcome of these statutory rape cases is still in doubt -- they may be withdrawn, they may be diverted into a rehabilitation program for the children, or they may be heard in open court. A final order should be made on December 1st. I'm trying to hold onto hope that the NPA will withdraw the charges, but the fact they filed them in the first place leads me to believe they'll forge ahead.

After all, the real moral problem in South African schools is teenagers consensually having sex, right?

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Prayers for our little HaLeigh Cummings, wherever she may be!!

Nine-tenths of wisdom is appreciation. Go find somebody’s hand and squeeze it, while there’s time.
-- Dale Dauten--

Thank you RAINE for all you ARE!! I will ALWAYS hold you in my Heart!!
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