Monday, March 13, 2006

Zuma fiasco has a really sad consequence..


Will anyone actually report a rape in future and willingly subject themselves to the trauma of going to trial? That is surely the most dire outcome of the current JZ rape trial and one that may have a more lasting impact than the actual outcome of the trial. For once I agree with the serial whingers in the Democratic Alliance who have come out with the comment report by IOL.co.za that "the behaviour of Zuma's supporters outside the Johannesburg High Court, which included publicising the name of the complainant and burning posters with her pictures, had grievously damaged the cause of justice and women's rights." It is not only this, it is the failure of the courts and its officials to shield the complainant physically in the way that she has had to enter the building through a public entrance and that there has been a failure to protect her identity without prosecution of those responsible.

I am glad to see that prominent ANC women have also expressed concern that "the trial showed the gap between the constitutional protection of women and what happened in practice".

I have a feeling that JZ, and perhaps many others in this country, saw nothing wrong with his actions (if they did take place as described in court) and it is possible that he has behaved in such a way before without being pulled up before the courts. If it is fair that the complainant has her sexual history brought to the fore and examined then it would be fair that the same is asked of JZ and perhaps the prosecutor should challenge other potential complainants who may have been similarly treated in the past to reveal themselves.  The nature and message of rape education that is currently being undertaken in advertising supports this. If there is a need people to be educated in the basics of an acceptable "no means no" mindset then it is probably because the advertisers have identified that enough people don't understand this mindset.

The worst outcome for the future of rape in this country would be that a "not guilty" verdict is returned whether in this case it is the just verdict or not. Future rape victims may be willing to subject themselves to the trauma of testifying so that justice can be served, but a "not guilty" verdict here will emphasise that the testimony and trauma alone will not guarantee a conviction.

The full article is at : http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=15&art_id=vn20060313012138119C734677 and is on page 4 of today's Cape Times.

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