We don’t know what sort of a person Anene was and frankly it doesn’t matter, she simply did not deserve to die. She did not deserve to be a rape victim. This should never have happened to her. This should never happen to any girl, any woman, to any person, ever.
Sadly it happens to too many.
So what to do? Why does it happen? How can we stop it happening again, or at least, happening as often as it does? Everyone in South Africa, every chat show host, every columnist, every blogger, ourselves included, is asking this question of one another and of ourselves. We cannot help but ask these questions. And a rape every four minutes, which we believe reflects the real incidence of this outrage, compels us to ask them.
We are not psychologists. We cannot get into the mind of a rapist and we wouldn’t want to go there anyway. But we are convinced that the fragmented society we live in must have something to do with Anene’s pain and fate.
We have a theory; that men do not grow to learn to respect women because they often grow up in the streets, or nearly so, reflecting the attitudes of cohorts who have no respect for anyone. Meaning they do not have the benefits of growing up in a nurturing family, learning to respect and cherish one another, that the ethic of violence and bullying and lack of respect for one-another and for women in particular, is learned in our streets and in our schools and in our gangs, and is just a catalyst for the mind-set that says of Anene and others like her, that they are just a toy, there for some one’s momentary pleasure, to be used, abused and discarded for dead like so much trash. And somehow this mind-set has to end.
We believe that if our society were different, if we had affordable government we would have an affordable society made up of affordable communities made up of affordable families, nurturing families who would teach us all to respect and love and care for one another and protect one another, particularly the vulnerable, as Anene was. And we pledge ourselves to that end. But we have a long way to go.
We are realists. We understand that it cannot end rapes, and sadly, it cannot return Anene’s life to her nor her gifts to her loved ones but perhaps it will save some of her sisters from similar indignities and fates. We can only do our best.