Punishment or revenge?

A woman in my family is a rape survivor.

August is Women’s month in South Africa with the 9th being the anniversary of the Women’s March to the Union Buildings in Pretoria, protesting the proposed pass laws which would effectively rent families apart.

The month is now dedicated to women in a country plagued by gender-based violence, and where femicide is probably among the highest in the world and the constitution is designed to protect the rights of all people, particularly the most vulnerable.

A paradox.

The events of the last ten days are of a country of mysoginists and malevolent patriarchs.  Five young women have been murdered and raped, either at the hands of strangers or of people they knew and had known intimately.  A girl-child of six was kidnapped (instead of her brother);  returned unharmed.

3915 women and children were murdered last year
That’s an average 10 women and children murdered every single day of 2018.
Every. Single. Day. 

— Karyn Maughan (@karynmaughan) September 2, 2019

The case of Uyinene Mrwetyana felt close to home:  she went to school in my old home town and would have stayed just down the road from my childhood home;  one of her parents works at my alma mater.  The post office in which the she was raped and killed, is the post office I regularly used at one point, when I lived in Cape Town.

Source

These events have unleashed a torrent of terror and rage. There are renewed calls for the reinstatement of the death penalty – ruled unconsititutional in an early and landmark ruling of our then young Constitutional Court.

There is no “typical” profile of the potential victim.  Our family member was not young, nubile, nor living an “out-there” life, in clubs, shopping and socialising.  In fact, she is quite the opposite:  a grey haired woman then approaching retirement age and who never wears makeup, only ever wearing sensible shoes.  Her social life is defined by the church, U3A and the work she does with a group of special needs Girl Guides.  She lives alone with her dog in one of Cape Town’s leafy suburbs. This last didn’t bother us because far be it from either of us to rob her of her independence. What did worry us was the fact that she rarely used the garage:  anyone could see when she was (not) at home.  We said so.

One Thursday evening she came home from one or other of her doings and thought it odd that Dog did not greet her.  The perpetrator had managed to open in a rear bathroom window, drugged the dog, and was waiting.

I have not been raped, but I and her brother lived the hell with her as she told and re-told and re-told the ordeal.  In soul-shattering detail.  It left us broken with her.  I remember her brother saying how ashamed to he was, of being a man.

And livid.

I understand the anger.  I also understand the wave of fear now gripping this country’s women and the knee jerk reaction asking for the reinstatement of the death penalty.  I recall my anger, wishing that the perpetrator would be caught and that yes, that he should die.

I have always, and instinctively been opposed to the death penalty. This forced me to reflect:  why did I want this man dead?  Would it punish him, or would I feel a sense of vengeance and vindication if he were to be killed?

Violence begets violence and there is much research in the public domain that attests to this.  Capital punishment is, by definition, violent.  I do, however, have to wonder whether, in the case of certain criminals, death is not too kind.

My heart goes out to the families of women and girls who have no choice but to know this scourge.

I bleed for those self-respecting men who are hanging their heads in shame.

I am with South Africa’s women who are asking #AmInext?

Until next time
Fiona
The Sandbag House
McGregor, South Africa


Photo: Selma

Featured image created by drawnhy97 – www.freepik.com

Post Script

In addition to WordPress I blog on a number of platforms:

  • Steemit – a crypto, social network and blogging platform, to which I post from WordPress using the SteemPress plugin.  If you’d also like to use your WordPress blog to earn crypto, join us on SteemPress.
  • My WordPress site is hosted by fellow Steemian, @gmuxx, with fees paid in crypto currency: Steem Based Dollars.  If you want more information, join the Steemblogs Club on Discord
  • Narrative, a crypto blogging platform
  • Instagram is a mostly visual platform where I post microblogs about fluff:  usually food and the cats; posts that sometimes promise hint about future WordPress posts.

On the Steem platform, I am part of these communities

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