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Heart of Darkness
December 1, 2006 7:17 AM   Subscribe

In the 12 months ending in March 2005, the South African police reported more than 22,000 cases of child rape. In Zimbabwe, at least 2,000 child rape victims have died of AIDS since 1998. “Everybody should be aware that things like this should not happen to children.” This is the scourge of sex abuse of girls in Africa.
posted by four panels (23 comments total)

 
I watched the creepiest documentary about this a few months back. It was about a American lady living in South Africa who adopted the youngest girl to be rapped as a child. She was an infant -- she couldn't have been more than a year old. I wish I could remember the movies name.
posted by chunking express at 8:03 AM on December 1, 2006


That is some tragic, disturbing and soul depleting information.

From your first link (which requires registration, thanks bugmenot):

'According to a report by BBC news, a female born in South Africa has a greater chance of being raped in her lifetime than learning how to read (Dempster, 2002).

Many girls are raped in bathrooms and latrines in schools, many by other classmates and 40% by teachers (Scared at School, 2001).'

The low status of girls is cause for all manner of abuse, not just sexual.
posted by asok at 8:10 AM on December 1, 2006


On the upside, it gives Gary Glitter a new holiday option.

/sick
posted by asok at 8:19 AM on December 1, 2006


Why do poverty and culture create a desire to rape a child?
posted by DenOfSizer at 8:28 AM on December 1, 2006


Why do poverty and culture create a desire to rape a child?

IIRC, in South Africa there is some kinda folklore that sex with a virgin girl can cure AIDS. Supposedly that contributes to child rape.
posted by thirteenkiller at 8:35 AM on December 1, 2006


A cursory Google search yields this article, which mentions that "virgin cure" myth and says it's not the main contributor to child rape numbers.
posted by thirteenkiller at 8:37 AM on December 1, 2006


I have a friend who was a rape counselor in Zimbabwe for a while, with the first organization to attempt to give such counseling. They have a hell of a time -- the government and a lot of the people don't like what they're trying to do. My friend had to leave the country multiple times in response to threats.

I'm glad I don't live in Zimbabwe, but I'm particularly glad I'm not a woman in Zimbabwe.
posted by gurple at 8:39 AM on December 1, 2006


Uh...things like this shouldn't happen to ANYONE. Sheesh, what a quote.
posted by agregoli at 8:56 AM on December 1, 2006


In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the virgin cure myth was floating around, but as AIDS awareness spread among some of the militias, a sick kind of rapist pragmatism emerged: they knew that AIDS was spread through sexual contact so they knew that a virgin wouldn't have AIDS and that most small children are virgins. So child rape became a twisted form of "safe sex" and/or a weapon against rival populations(the stigma attached to AIDS is strong enough that infecting a child pretty much destroys the family). Sick Sick Sick stuff.
posted by cal71 at 9:10 AM on December 1, 2006


So child rape became a twisted form of "safe sex" and/or a weapon against rival populations(the stigma attached to AIDS is strong enough that infecting a child pretty much destroys the family).

I think this day, Dec. 1, 2006, marks the official death of my faith in humanity.
posted by Rubber Soul at 9:56 AM on December 1, 2006


Whilst I realize AIDS has a role here, I'm not so sure that its contribution to the situation is as significant as other factors. Someone of authority quoted in one of those articles opines that the traditional lowly status of women versus men is likely the primary causative factor.

If you combine an anachronistic gender power arrangement with outrageously burdensome costs for plaintiff victims, poor literacy, high rural populations, extreme poverty necessitating sharing of children between families and/or inability of parents to properly protect children, lack of health facilities, low level govt. propaganda on the subject, underfunded and overworked and no doubt unsophisticated legal systems ---- I would have thought those alone would account for the reportings in southern Africa being twice as high as in the UK.

In other words, it seems to me that the spectre of AIDS is in fact highlighting what has always been a serious problem. Whilst I'm sure that mortality rates among children have increased because of infection and there probably is a certain element who use AIDS as a motivating factor when they choose to rape a child, deep down the problem, like everywhere in the world, is that males - and especially family members - choose to rape females because they don't and won't curtail their base urges because they are more powerful than their victims.

It is just fucking sad, whether in Madagascar, Toronto or Namibia.
posted by peacay at 9:56 AM on December 1, 2006


...deep down the problem, like everywhere in the world, is that males - and especially family members - choose to rape females because they don't and won't curtail their base urges because they are more powerful than their victims.

This deserves repeating, I think.
posted by jokeefe at 10:03 AM on December 1, 2006


Except for one addendum: boys get raped too.
posted by jokeefe at 10:04 AM on December 1, 2006


*cough* By men.
posted by jokeefe at 10:04 AM on December 1, 2006


Africa, oh Africa...
posted by A189Nut at 10:26 AM on December 1, 2006


It should be noted that children are sexually exploited on every continent (with the obvious exception), and this sort of thing is not only confined to Africa.
posted by cal71 at 10:43 AM on December 1, 2006


Indeed...I know somebody who was a vicitim as a toddler. Her father was the assailant, and it was in a middle-class US family in the latter half of the last century.

Base urges, unequal power relationships, lifetimes of anguish.
posted by pax digita at 10:54 AM on December 1, 2006


They're not saying it doesn't happen everywhere to some extent, but that it happens more often in Africa and that a child rapist is less likely there to be convicted in Africa.
Researchers cite various reasons that abuse is so common [in Africa]: poverty, which makes it harder for parents to keep children safe; a legacy of violent, oppressed societies, and cultural mores that allow offenders to escape criminal punishment, often by marrying their victims or compensating their victims’ families.

But, ultimately, said Dr. Jewkes, of the Medical Research Council, the vast gap between the status of men and boys and that of women and girls explains much of the climate of relative tolerance.
posted by pracowity at 12:51 PM on December 1, 2006


reported one child rape case where the perpetrator believed the myth. This happened four years ago when the child's mother agreed that the HIV-positive man could rape her four-year-old in exchange for cash

This makes me want to cry.

(This is a quote from the very interesting, if not horrifying, report that thirteenkiller linked to.)
posted by melangell at 1:23 PM on December 1, 2006


I spent so long submerged in this kind of information, living with the thought that almost every moment, somewhere out there, someone was getting rape. I tried to block it out, escape into my bubble and pretend we lived in happyland but it always drags me back in. I read things like this and the world seems shrouded in black. How can there be any hope for humanity when this kind of stuff goes on every. single. day.
posted by liquorice at 4:55 PM on December 1, 2006


There is no hope for humanity, liquorice.

There is only hope for yourself.

Contribute well to society, and be at peace with that.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:58 PM on December 1, 2006


How does an FPP about the Decemberists have more comments than this one?
posted by nonmerci at 11:13 PM on December 2, 2006


How does an FPP about the Decemberists have more comments than this one?

Theory #1

The world is fucked all around you and pretty much 80% of the population is suffering through life in comparison to your luxurious first-world existence but because we know reading/hearing about nasty shit only makes you feel guilty - here's a squirrel being pulled around on water-skis.

Theory #2
It isn't a requirement to post a comment in every thread.

I sometimes wish that I had more influence in the world so that I could stop (or at the very least curtail) the daily horrors that I read about, but at the end of the day fff's comment is the truth - be as good a person as you can be - it's the only influence you've got. Use it daily.
posted by longbaugh at 9:24 AM on December 4, 2006


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