International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Gender-specific Reparations

I just came across this article on al Jazeera, on Rape in South Africa. The main context of the article is a recent video of a rape that went viral, and then was eventually presented to the police. They discuss South Africa as the ‘Rape Capital of the World’ and announce the statistic that in South Africa a woman is raped every 26 seconds. They do a really good job in the article characterizing the issue of rape [in South Africa] as an unspoken ‘war’ with hundreds of unspoken victims, unseen by the justice system. 

There are also a lot of great videos included in the post; what I found had specific relevance to our class was the “1in9” video. It’s a video of a group of women protesting that Zuma was aquitted on a rape charge. They emphasize that they are remembering the woman who was exiled and all other rape survivors who have been “secondly victimized” by the courts. They emphasize that they are there because of an unrecognized justice claim. 

So here we see that the 1in9 protest is filling a symbolic function (remembering past victims) while attempting to get symbolic recognition of the controversy, and then eventually material recognition – the lifting of the exile. 

Since we’ve just been looking at the importance of gender-specific reparations, I felt this article on (largely) the state of women in South Africa post-Apartheid was a great reflection on the importance of reestablishing civic norms for everyone. Here we have a case of what seems to be large-scale human rights violations happening largely with impunity. South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission undoubtedly set the standard, but did they do enough for acknowledging crimes of sexual violence? (And thus reestablishing the norm that it wasn’t acceptable to commit crimes of sexual violence, and giving effected women back civic agency?)

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