Court landmark ruling finally empowers ‘silent’ rape victims

THE ruling by the high court in Johannesburg against Section 18 of the Criminal Procedure Act is probably the best news we have received in a long time.

The Act stipulated that a rape that was not reported within 20 years could no longer be legally pursued.

Judge Claire Hartford did not only deliver a blow to an oppressive law, but also, and most importantly, freed millions of rape victims at one fell swoop.

It must be understood that rape, the silent shame, remains with the victim for the rest of their lives.

It is for that reason that those who doggedly challenged the Act, the Frankel 8, should be commended for giving rape survivors a second chance to restore some of their stolen dignity.

If anything, the scrapping of the law gives the voiceless rape survivors a chance to have their voices heard later on when they are older, bolder and wiser.

Gone are the days when those who thrive on preying on the young and vulnerable boys and girls would scare them to silence.

Apart from paedophiles such as Gert van Rooyen covered by the ZO recently, somewhere in the world well-known personalities are being hauled to court to answer to sexual violations they committed against young children who were entrusted into their care.

Closer to home, relatives who know they would not be reported to the police in order to protect the ‘good name’ of the family must know that they now have nowhere else to hide in our country.

Silence by family often fails to acknowledge the ordeal and the sense of betrayal the victim silently goes through for years.

Scars left by sexual violation cannot be entirely healed, so justice must prevail if this scourge is to be effectively addressed.

Now that a ruling has been made on the oppressive Act, rape survivors across the country are empowered to bring the perpetrators to book.

Such despicable crimes should not go unpunished in a democratic country.

So, it is time for relevant structures to popularise this new breakthrough to ensure that rape survivors know about the new development.

It is time for everyone to be pro-active rather than the knee-jerk reaction we have witnessed in the past few weeks when our women were violated and killed.

Faith based organisations, schools, NGOs, the government and indeed community leaders should rise up to the occasion and help rid our homes and streets of those depraved individuals who thought they could outsmart the law.

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  AUTHOR
Dr Khaya Gqibithole

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