Government applauds media sensitivity in Dros rape reports

PRETORIA - Deputy Minister of Communications Pinky Kekana on Friday applauded the print media for what she termed "sensitive reportage" on the Dros restaurant rape of a seven-year-old little girl in Silverton, east of Pretoria.

"I would argue that the media must not reveal the identity of a child [involved in a rape case] because we need to safeguard the interest of the child. Let me pause here to acknowledge the fact that our colleagues in the print have reported on the Dros matter sensitively, and this is commendable," said Kekana during a gender-based violence (GBV) panel discussion.

READ: Government condemns Dros restaurant rape

The discussion was held under the topic Gender-Based Violence and Media Ethics.

"This sensitivity must not end here, even when you report on stories where a child is not involved. You need to be gender sensitive. Instead of saying 'Pinky was allegedly raped by Thabo', why not write 'Thabo allegedly raped Pinky'," suggested the deputy minister.

"One might look at this and think it is trivial, or semantics. It is not. It is a reflection of our judicial system which places the onus of proof on the survivor."

Kekana said that "reverse onus principle" must not apply in incidents of GBV and related crimes. 

"We, as women, are often cross-examined well before the matters get into the investigation. We are asked frivolous questions - we are told 'but you asked for it, how could you dress like that?'," lamented the deputy minister.  

READ: Disturbing details emerge following Dros rape

"In our own, or in many political organisations, the cases are treated [as] slander and political conspiracies. In the workplace, we know that patriarchy and misogyny manifest itself in subtle and consistent ways."

She said in the corporate world, women who call out abusers "are labelled by captains of industry in major corporations as cultural misfits".

The deputy minister added that the pandemic was also endemic in non-governmental organisations.

"South Africa is a highly pumped masculine society and this emanates from our various forms of socialisation. From all quarters, young men and women are indoctrinated to think that males are the be-all and end-all of society," said Kekana. 

READ: Why the media cannot name the alleged Dros rapist

"This manifests itself in cultural practices, religious practices and certain social norms. In essence, our society is structured in a manner which sustains only the interests of men."  

The situation is further exacerbated by South Africa's legal system, "which requires one to prove a crime without a reasonable doubt", said Kekana.

Other panelists at the discussion included Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs John Jeffery, and representatives from various non-governmental organisations involved in the fight against GBV.

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