Sixteen Days of Activism of no Violence against Women and Children – a campaign which runs from 25 November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) through to International Human Rights Day on 10 December – has come to an end.

It’s been 16 years since South Africa became part of the global annual campaign to stop gender and human rights violation; the campaign that involve men in helping to eradicate violence. It also provides victims with a public platform to tell their stories.

Violence against women and children takes many forms; nonetheless allow me to pay attention to ‘sexual assault’ on young women.

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault: a general term which covers a range of crimes, including rape – which can be experienced verbally, visually or through anything that forces a person to join in unwanted sexual contact or attention.

Let’s be honest, one could argue that sexualisation breeds sexual assault and more young girls are falling victims of sexual objectification. Because of the current trend of young ladies’s desperation to look sexy, some cultural critics have postulated that over recent decades children have evidenced a level of sexual knowledge or sexual behaviour inappropriate for their age group.

This is worrying, even more depressing when these young girls’ role models are women whose value comes from sexual appeal or behaviour. The closest idol to that comes to mind is millionaire Kim Kardashian-West – wife of the American rapper Kanye Wes – who nearly gave internet dependents a heart attack when she posted her nude photos on Twitter with an intention to #BreakTheInternet. Luckily, she didn’t succeed, but she did have everyone talking about her revealing shoot with People Magazine.

Social media – which has become an addiction to many, including Kim, who admitted that she “wouldn’t exist without social media” – has become one of the greatest participants involved in promoting sexual objectification.

Like Kim, when a girl posts a picture on social networking sites, does she expect to get an overwhelming likes or retweets? Of course she does. The promotion of sexualisation is increasing each year and it’s becoming uncontrollable. Facebook pages are being created aimed at displaying how sexy South African girls’ bodies are shaped like. Pictures of girls showing off their boobs, butts,  thighs or licking their fingers are posted on regularly. Surely, this sexual behaviour would concern or shock any parents – who may not have an idea of what their children get up to behind closed doors.

Sometimes the same images find their way back to the community, the society that is built on culture, governed by religion and tradition – and the minute that image starts circulating the dignity, respect, intelligence and beauty drop and the embarrassed girl gets degraded. This could have a negative impact on a young girl’s future image. The chances are it could also cause a strain and weak havoc on mental or physical health.

Sadly, in our communities,  we watch children get transformed from girlhood to womanhood – inspired by celebrities such as Kim, Beyonce, Rihanna, Chomee, Khanyi Mbau and Kelly Khumalo, just to mention but a few – because they want to look perfectly pretty.

In contrast, some of them are parents and one would expect them not use their beauty inappropriately to boost their careers. Admittedly, looking pretty is appealing, but it also hurts as Beyonce puts it in one of her songs:

Pretty Hurts:

Pretty hurts, we shine the light on whatever’s worst

Perfection is a disease of a nation, pretty hurts, pretty hurts

Pretty hurts, we shine the light on whatever’s worst

We try to fix something but you can’t fix what you can’t see

It’s the soul that needs the surgery

 

Blonder hair, flat chest

TV says, “Bigger is better.”

South beach, sugar free

Vogue says, “Thinner is better.”

I agree with Beyonce, “perfection is a disease of a nation”. Meanwhile, sexual assault is a disease that has robbed many young souls.

In 2012, Audrie Pott, a 15-year-old student from Saratoga High School in California, reportedly went to a party with about 10 other teenagers who were allegedly drunk. It is alleged that three or more of these teenagers raped Pott.

During the assault, photographs were taken and distributed via social network and SMS. In the following days, Pott reported being bullied by those who saw the photographs. On September 12, 2012, Pott killed herself by hanging.

It is undeniable that sexual assault is one of the biggest battles of our generation and sometimes it’s hard to blame one person in one case. In some cases, the victim surprisingly gets the blame, parents are also questioned for not playing their role of protecting their children accordingly and social media has also been described as one of the most influential sources of sex assault cases.

In cases like Pott, who do you blame? The parents for allowing their 15-year-old daughter to party at night? Was she too drunk at her age? If the pictures didn’t make it to social media, would she still be alive? Share your thoughts.

About The Author

Lerato Tau
Contributor
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Lerato is a 25-year-old Tshwane University of Technology graduate, who studied in the field of Management Sciences and Marketing. She is currently studying Engineering.She is a born writer, smart, driven, an entrepreneur at heart, a consultant, motivational speaker, daughter, sister and friend.

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