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South African’s gang rape likened to Delhi bus case

The gang rape and murder of a 17-year-old girl in South Africa has triggered expressions of outrage from politicians and calls for Indian-style protests against a culture of sexual violence.

world Updated: Feb 08, 2013 01:08 IST
Agencies

The gang rape and murder of a 17-year-old girl in South Africa has triggered expressions of outrage from politicians and calls for Indian-style protests against a culture of sexual violence.

Anene Booysen was reportedly lured away from her friends and raped by a group of men. She was badly mutilated and left for dead on a building site in the town of Bredasdorp, 80 miles east of Cape Town, and found by a security guard on Saturday morning.

Hospital staff who fought to save her life were given counselling because of the horrific nature of her injuries, local media said. Before she died, Anene identified her former boyfriend as one of her attackers. He and another man have been detained, and police say more arrests are likely.

The case is being compared to the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old student on a New Delhi bus that triggered huge demonstrations in India against endemic gender violence.

Patrick Craven, spokesman for the Congress of South African Trade Unions, said: “When a very similar incident occurred in India recently, there was a massive outbreak of protest and mass demonstrations in the streets. We must show the world that South Africans are no less angry and make an equally loud statement of disgust and protest in the streets.”

But such a display seems unlikely in a country where rights groups complain that rape has become normalised and lost the power to shock. In 2010-11, 56,272 rapes were recorded in South Africa, an average of 154 a day and more than double the rate in India.

In January, the Daily Maverick website asked: “Where is South Africa’s Jantar Mantar moment?”. On Thursday, it appeared that politicians sensed that the death of Booysen might provide it.

The South African president, Jacob Zuma, said: “The whole nation is outraged at this extreme violation and destruction of a young human life. This act is shocking, cruel and most inhumane. It has no place in our country. We must never allow ourselves to get used to these acts of base criminality to our women and children.”

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