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Teachers Allegedly Find Video of Student Being Raped “Hilarious”

Teachers Allegedly Find Video of Student Being Raped “Hilarious”

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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Photo of hand holding phone from whiteafrican's flickr, reused with thanks under Creative Commons License.

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170 comments

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3:47AM PST on Nov 6, 2011

This is so terrible. Always when i hear about terrible things it makes me sad, and i cannot understand how someone could do something terrible - hurt, rape or kill a person or animal. When i was a child this also happened to me... and surviving this is more terrible than not (parents and other may think different, but a victim?), living with all this pain... living with guilty feelings... full with hate for the own self
No one can understand, because most people cannot imagine this, cannot imagine how much it change. Some of them think, that this would not be so terrible, because all would make some sexual experiences, and so it would not matter if there were some without own interest or wish. This cruel and superficial society makes me sick.

I know that it is not good to wish someone who does terrible things something as a punishment. But when i hear about violent people then i think why are they so "afraid" to go to someone equal and get some hits for their selves. This is a perversion, to think being more a man when beating a woman or a girl. This men are a shame for all normal men.

"We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not yet learned the simple art of living together as brothers." (Martin Luther King)

11:26PM PST on Feb 18, 2011

just saw this post as i'm wondering what actually happened in the end...

meanwhile:

" BBC News also quotes South Africa's minister for women, children, and people with disabilities as saying"

interesting grouping.

11:54PM PST on Feb 11, 2011

Annmari, this is a VERY old discussion. If you scroll down thru the comments, you will find an "update" where the girl supposedly raped has recanted her story. It still doesn't excuse teachers finding anything amusing about a female being sexually assaulted, but just saying it's an old story now and a mute one.

6:03AM PST on Feb 11, 2011

Half of the women in SA will be raped at least once during their lifetime. Less than 1% of rapes lead to prosecution. What the H**L is wrong with that country??? I say it's time to go back to put economic pressure on SA as we did during the apartheid time. This is actually apartheid because authoroties treat women as third class citizens!

8:45AM PST on Jan 4, 2011

Pleeeaaaaase, help me I thought the "No" was the other way and accidently clicked on it thinking I was clicking on the yes.
I feel terrible!
I wanted to click on "Yes" of course, can somebody erase this awful and unvoluntary "No".
Of course they should be disciplined, and I accidently voted "No" (with another account with whom I didn't knew how to make a comment, they asked a password and i didn't know what it was! so I created another account to post it.) I feel sick.
It's horrible, please help me!

8:50AM PST on Dec 14, 2010

How unbelievably disgusting and pathetic.

5:25PM PST on Dec 6, 2010

That country should be ashamed of itself!!! Teachers cheering rapist students and six month old babies gang raped by grown men? It breaks my heart and infuriates me--- an unspeakably sick Hell on Earth. I strongly agree there needs to be much MORE international action if nothing is being done domestically, or if local activists need outside assistance. My heart is with all those suffering innocent people tortured at the hands of monsters.

2:27PM PST on Dec 6, 2010

Wow

2:37PM PST on Dec 1, 2010

Update on this incident.
The girl has withdrawn her charge of rape stating it was consensual. (It has been said that she didn't look conscious in the phone video, suggesting it was in fact rape)

"The Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday ordered the 15-year-old girl and two boys who were initially accused of raping her to attend counselling sessions.

They will now be required to attend two weekly sessions for the next three months as part of a diversion programme run by the Teddy Bear Clinic, which deals with abused children."

So far no news on what is to happen to the so called teachers who thought it was such a joke. Will they be disciplined?
In my eyes they are more guilty than the kids. Where was the supervision?
Surely the kids become the responsibility of the teachers whilst at school or am I right when I say that teachers are only there for the salary?
The down hill slide continues.

Make a difference, plant a tree.

4:06PM PST on Nov 28, 2010

Robin T is right, the police have crucial evidence on the cell phones.

Until an example is made of the criminals, this will continue for it seems there is little price to be paid by the rapists in this country.

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