So, who is to blame?
It is like the story about the chicken and the egg. Which one came first? The chicken of course? She lay the egg which started the circle of life. But the chicken came from an egg in the first place?
A six year old girl was raped last weekend. Not by a drunk stepfather or a hormonal teenage cousin. She was not walking alone down a deserted road or sleeping silently in shack while her mom was at work. It happened at a family restaurant in suburban Pretoria, in the public bathroom. A customer was apparantely watching her in the play area and followed her into the bathroom, locked them in and raped her. Her mother and restaurant staff went looking for her when she was no longer seen playing in the designated play area. She was found naked, bleeding, in the ladies bathrooms. The man made a run for it to the mens bathrooms, where according to eye witnesses he desperately tried to flush some clothes down the toilet. And there customers found him and attacked him.
So the big question on everyone’s lips – who is to blame? Social media went ballistic, as to be expected, because as humans we always have an opinion about everything. There was outrage, words of hate, a desperate call for the death penalty, the justification of mob justice, racism. The comments?
- The mother is to blame. She should have been keeping an eye on her daughter and not have allowed her to go the bathroom by herself. Who allows their 6 year old go to a public toilet by themselves?
- The so called eye-witness is to blame. He/she saw the young man watching the girl and following her to the bathroom. Why did he/she not react? Or at least call a staff member to check it out.
- The restaurant staff. They should have kept an eye on the girl and should not have allowed her to leave the play area without supervision. They should have more security in place in the play area.
- The government, the system. Convicted criminals get off lightly and just go out into the world and commit the same crimes over and over again. Committing a crime holds no fear. They get off with a light sentence or a simple bribe. Court cases go on for years.
702 listeners as well as a respected radio journalist, were infuriated by the fact that the rapist was referred to in the media, as “the alleged rapist.”, especially as it was quite clear who it was. But legally, that is what journalists need to do, as the rapist had not been formally convicted. It is the law. But social media could not care about the law. Pictures quickly started spreading and we now know what his name is and what he looks like. And we know that a child rapist looks like an ordinary young man who was sitting at a restaurant bar having a few drinks.
Pointing fingers and trying to figure out who is to blame, will NEVER change or undo what happened. An innocent young child’s life has been changed forever. A girl who, most likely, does not even know yet about periods and how a girls’ body develops into that of a woman. A child who was most likely just warned by her parents about not talking to strangers and not allowing anyone to touch you in ways that make you feel uncomfortable. A child who still plays with blonde Barbie dolls and moulds playdough into farm animals and who draws pictures of white unicorns and fairies with pink tutus. This poor girl was doing what any normal child her age would do at a family restaurant. She was having fun in an assumed save environment.
So instead of deliberating who is to blame, move forward. Let this be a huge lesson for us as parents, to protect our own children. In fact, to overprotect our children. To know where they are, to teach them to stay in groups, to give them tools to protect themselves, to teach them that very few people are to be trusted. We need to talk to our young kids and unfortunately we have to be brutally honest with them. Explain molestation and rape and to teach them it is never wrong to say “no”. To anybody.
There are monsters with masks walking amongst us.