Editorial: Strike down rape culture

Last Friday, a third-year university student died of suicide at home in Johannesburg. Khensani Maseko had been raped in Makhanda in May.

Yesterday her family buried her. It was Women’s Day.

The significance is as poignant as it is tragic. Sixty-two years ago this week women marched to the heart of one of Africa’s most heartless regimes to fight for the rights of all South Africans —and forever dispel the misogyny that a woman’s place was in the kitchen.

Today, women might be politically free like all other South Africans, but they remain enslaved in the shackles of a predatory patriarchy that refuses to put gender-based violence beyond the pale.

We should be wrestling with this shame as a nation but we are not. Last week, our own president received a memorandum from marchers — at the very Union Buildings that apartheid prime minister JG Strijdom once occupied — only to mouth platitudes while his own party continues to house a former deputy minister of education convicted of beating up two women.

And what of our universities, what of Rhodes University with its proud boast “where leaders learn”?

READ MORE: Rhodes rages after suicide

We expect so much more from these supposed safe spaces where the brightest, the most privileged in our society go to study solutions for the problems that bedevil us.

Rhodes University, which was brought to a standstill only two years ago when students rose up against at least 11 unpunished alleged rapists, seems to have learnt very little.

This week, the university suspended lectures for two days for an alternative education programme on gender-based violence.

For the family of Khensani Maseko it would have been a case of too little, too late, made all the more bitterly ironic given that she had reported the attack at the end of July.

How many others are at risk? How many other Khensani’s have yet to come forward to report their secret horrors in the groves of academe.

Let us remember the clarion call of 1956 —wathint’abafazi, wathint’imbokodo — and let us ensure that the next time a woman is struck or raped, their attacker will finally have struck a rock.

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Advertisting

Nehawu launches urgent court bid over protective gear for health...

The health workers’ union says the government has rebuffed its attempts to meet about mitigating risks to workers

Stay at home, Cyril said. But what about the homeless?

In Tshwane, forcing homeless people off the street resulted in chaos and the abuse of a vulnerable population. In Durban, a smooth, well-planned operation fared far better

Press Releases

Everyone’s talking about it. Even Kentucky

Earlier this year South African fried chicken fast-food chain, Chicken Licken®, launched a campaign for their wallet-friendly EasyBucks® meals, based on the idea of ‘Everyone’s talking about it.’

New energy mix on the cards

REI4P already has and will continue to yield thousands of employment opportunities

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world