May 13, 2021

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South African women take a stand against rape culture | News about sexual assault

5 min read


In January, a Johannesburg woman publicly accused popular South African DJs Thato Sikwane, known as DJ Fresh, and Themba Nkosi, known as Euphonik, of drugging and raping her. as well as three other women at a party in 2011, when she was a second. year student at the University of Pretoria. In a tweet, Siphelele Madikizela explained that she was so intoxicated at the time of the alleged attack that she was unsure whether the two men or only one of them raped her, and added that they both laughed at it the next morning, saying that the women were so drunk that they kept “passing out”.

Euphonik and DJ Fresh denied the charges, and their supporters and fans were quick to label the alleged victim as an “attention seeker” and “liar” on social media. While the woman received support from several social media activists and influencers, who said they believed her, many others dismissed her claims and put their support behind the two men.

Despite the numerous attacks she faced, the victim maintained her statement and filed a formal complaint against the two DJs a month later.

On February 15, the South African National Prosecution Authority (NPA) announced its decision not to prosecute the case due to insufficient evidence. The NPA’s decision, which was not an acquittal but an assessment that “there was no chance of a successful prosecution on the basis of the available evidence”, further encouraged the accused. They issued a joint statement celebrating the decision and doubled down on their claims that their accuser “lies”.

This is not the end of the road for the alleged victim, however. The NPA’s decision neither quashed his charges nor confirmed the innocence of the defendants. It can always demand a review of the NPA’s decision or opt for the private prosecution provided for in Article 7 of the Criminal Procedures Act. Pursuing these options can create favorable conditions to secure a trial and encourage other victims to come forward to support the case.

Plus, while she has yet to get DJ Fresh and Euphonik before a judge, the woman has already done a lot by denouncing these two powerful figures in the entertainment industry.

While a final assessment of the case in court may take place in the future, the accusations and the subsequent campaign of harassment directed against the alleged victim sparked a much needed conversation in South Africa about the culture of rape. and its many devastating manifestations.

Many women, including myself, familiar with the college party scene in South Africa, did not find the woman’s account of the events leading up to her alleged rape surprising. College students regularly attend alcohol and drug-fueled parties alongside popular DJs, celebrities and other elites, and sometimes find themselves coerced into sex with these men they would not consent to if they did. were sober. Men pressure young women to drink to the point of passing out, even drug them without their knowledge, and sexually assault them. Unfortunately, society often considers these encounters to be consensual and the women do not speak out and do not file a complaint because they fear being accused of lying or promiscuous.

By speaking publicly about her ordeal, the accuser has put these issues in the spotlight. While she received a lot of fury and vitriol for pointing fingers at these two popular media figures, she also managed to draw attention to an issue often swept under the rug in discussions of rape and sexual abuse. : powerful and popular men accused of abusing young women with impunity.

Indeed, many assume that successful men loved and respected by society cannot also be rapists. Charges of abuse and rape leveled against these men, especially by women who voluntarily entertained or even dated them, are easily dismissed as lies or attempted blackmail. However, as author Robin Warsaw pointed out in his book I Never Called It Rape, “Rape that takes place on dates or between people who know each other should not be seen as some kind of rape. ‘misguided sexual adventure: rape is violence, not seduction’.

We must all recognize this fact and act on it if we are to rid society of the culture of rape and all its manifestations. And I hope that the discussions sparked by the accusations against the two DJs will bring us one step closer to that goal.

The recent rape charge they faced also had direct material consequences for DJ Fresh and Euphonik. Primedia Broadcasting, the parent company of 947 Radio Station, where the two DJs worked, first suspended their contracts and then announced their dismissal.

The decision was undoubtedly motivated by the company’s desire to protect its public image and distance itself from any allegations of rape. Whatever the motivation, however, he has shown that companies and co-ops now feel that they cannot ignore allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse, even when they target some of their most popular employees and the most lucrative. What’s more, he has shown that even the most powerful men cannot avoid suffering consequences when women they have abused speak out courageously.

In recent years, many powerful men in South Africa have been held accountable for their predatory behavior after several women mustered the courage to publicly accuse them of sexual misconduct and abuse. In 2020, Kaya FM station manager Greg Maloka resigned his post following allegations of sexual harassment brought against him by four different women. He resigned without erasing his name, leaving the allegations alive and the possible closure of his victims elusive.

In 2015, former tennis star Bob Hewitt was sentenced to eight years in prison after being convicted of two counts of rape and one count of sexual assault. The charges stemmed from the testimony of three women trained by Hewitt in the 1980s and 1990s. In his verdict, Presiding Judge Bert Bam noted the striking similarities between the three testimonies of women who he said demonstrated Hewitt’s calculated conduct.

A similar fate could even await DJ Fresh and Euphonik, who faced several other allegations of gender-based violence and sexual irregularity ahead of their rape charge in January.

It is still not easy for women to publicly accuse powerful men of sexual abuse and misconduct. However, times are changing – more and more women refuse to be intimidated and silent by their powerful abusers and supporters. I hope that, with their courage and strength, we will soon rid our society of the culture of rape and hold to account all the celebrities and other elites who have too long abused women with impunity.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.





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