The XX Factor

If a Woman Gets Killed in a Forest …

For more illumination of the epidemic of rape in South Africa that Intern Anna began this week, here’s a sobering PSA that brings home the point and, most importantly, universalizes it.

It’s easy to heave a sigh of relief about the staggering acceptance of rape in a far-away land, especially one with South Africa’s recent history, but anecdotes like this one should reduce all cultures to a guilty silence and vows to do better. Where wouldn’t this happen?

In the PSA, a Jo’burg “jerk” plays drums into the wee hours. With a quickness, his gated-community neighbors complain, invoking notions of “community” to shame the young man into good neighborship. But when the same “jerk,” in the same unit, plays a booming tape of himself abusing a screaming woman, crockery crashing, glass breaking? Cue the crickets.

Watch and ask yourself what you’d do in the same situation and, NO, it’s not easy. I once alerted Child Protective Services to a “final straw” situation in a home I knew to be abusive (by my standards, not theirs as “spoil the rod-ers”) but only after friends recoiled more from my failure to have immediately acted than from my description of what I knew had happened. So, that’s my cross to bear (I called, the parents accepted oversight and counseling, then I moved. God help those kids.)

So, bottom line: You may not be a rapist, but are you a collaborator?