And a happy New Year

Tammy Sutherns

Tammy Sutherns

By Tammy Sutherns

Despite my tendency to be one of those airy-fairy, happy New Year, new beginnings, think positive and the universe will reward you kind of people, a week into 2013 and I was feeling pretty pissed off.

The gang rape incident in India was one of the first incidents to jolt me out of my post holiday bliss. Reading articles of the mass protests after the death of the victim as a result of her injuries sent shivers down my spine. “Proud to be an Indian. Terrified to be an Indian woman,” their signs read.

More alarming has been the reaction by ‘godman’ Asharam, who, according to Times Live told his followers that, “This tragedy would not have happened if she had chanted God’s name and fallen at the feet of the attackers. The error was not committed by just one side.”

It’s the highly problematic ‘short skirt’ argument taking on a whole new dimension and while his words have since been condemned, they are shocking nonetheless. Terrified to be an Indian woman? How about ashamed to be a human being.

It was only a year ago that the mini-skirt harassment occurred at a Johannesburg taxi rank where two teenage girls were followed around relentlessly by a growing group of men, which eventually became a mob of about 50. The teenagers were humiliated and violently discriminated against. Four years before that Nwabisa Ngcukana was attacked and sexually assaulted. The reason? She was wearing a mini-skirt. Like in India, these incidents have been condemned by governmental leaders but it stinks of too little too late. Why are we only intervening after the fact?

While the focus is on India at the moment, South Africa doesn’t get to escape the focus of frustration. The news has been littered with rape stories just a few days into the New Year. Women in their seventies and eighties have been raped. A student waiting in line to register for university has been raped. Is there any end to this madness?

Some may call this a feminist rant. If being horrified by these things makes one a feminist, then one damn well hopes every single person on this planet starts redefining their identity to include the ‘f’ word in it.

“I just want to sleep,” Laurie Halse Anderson writes in Speak , “A coma would be nice. Or amnesia. Anything, just to get rid of this, these thoughts, whispers in my mind. Did he rape my head, too?”

The world might not have ended in December, but one wonders what the hell we’re actually preserving here.

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