Friday, November 26, 2010

The Rapes That Never Happened

Hi there, Scott speaking.

Hello, sir, my daughter is raped.

I’m sorry, what did you say?

My daughter, she is raped.

Could you please hold on for a moment while I call a friend who can help you?

Sir, my daughter, she is Somali like me, and she is being raped by two men. She is eleven. She is crying and crying.

And have you been to the hospital. To the police?

The police say we are foreigners, we must go, they cannot help us. We are attacked in the location. They cannot help us. We say, we know the men who raped my daughter- they are our neighbours. They have much beer and they rape her- but the police say go away.

So the police did not take a statement?


And the police did not advise your daughter to have counseling, or offer to examine your daughter using a rape kit?

No. What is rape kit?

It is a special kit to make sure your daughter is ok, and to collect evidence.


And did you take your daughter to the clinic?

At the clinic, they say she is foreigner, they laugh and say “voertsek”. They say “go home to Nigeria”. We are Somali.

So they did not give her tests, or offer her PEP medication or ARVs?

What is this?

Post-exposure prophylaxis drugs, or anti-retrovirals- is case she came into contact with HIV.

No. They did chase us away.

So your daughter has not spoken to the police or had medical help?


But it is important that she does these things, we can help your daughter go to the police station and the clinic.

No, sir, I do not want to go to the clinic. We want to go back to Somalia. But we have refugee status. The UN must take us back to Somalia.

But the UNHCR will not repatriate you while the country is at war. It is in their mandate.

We do not care. We want to die in our own country, not be killed in South Africa. The people in this country are killing us because we are foreigners. We want to go home to die.


This is as much as I can recall of an actual conversation I had two years ago. It was the third such conversation I had in one day while working for a civil society organization. Three women or girls, raped. None received counseling, police assistance or medical care of any sort. They never made statements. They were raped because they were foreigners. Let me say, though, that South African women and girls are just as vulnerable to rape and sexual assault. And just as liable to never go through any medical or legal process following an incident or attack. The poor suffer most. And it’s happening every hour of every day. It’s shocking. This is not a rubber-necking at a car accident post, but just a reminder that our society is not a healthy one, it has deep flaws that can’t quite balance out the scenery, hospitality or business and sporting achievements.

Speak out, if you can, especially for those who don’t have a voice.

16 Days of Activism



  1. This is a good post about a subject that needs talking about. I feel so sorry for that little girl and her parent.

    Part of me wish that I had never read this post because I feel dirty just knowing that our society has so much ugliness in it.

  2. Hey, Louisa, I guess we'd all go insane if we just shared about stories like these, but, then, South Africa is strange- sometimes the whole country is able to add their collective voices to a cause. I'm hoping that social causes become as "relevant' as sporting ones. There's so much to be positive about.

  3. Sjoe...
    I have goosebumps. Thank you for posting this.


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