babble home - news for the rest of us
today's active topics

Post New Topic  Post A Reply
FAQ | Forum Home
  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» babble   » current events   » international news and politics   » South Africa: former deputy president acquitted of rape

Email this thread to someone!    
Author Topic: South Africa: former deputy president acquitted of rape
Babbler # 8238

posted 09 May 2006 05:11 PM      Profile for obscurantist     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Reuters AlertNet
Women and AIDS activists said on Tuesday a ruling that cleared former Deputy President Jacob Zuma of rape and questioned the credibility of his accuser had set South Africa back by decades in fighting sexual violence and a brutal AIDS epidemic.

Zuma was cleared of raping an HIV-positive family friend on Monday after a trial that delved into the accuser's sexual history and saw one of South Africa's most popular politicians playing down the risk of having sex without a condom.

South Africa is battling one of the world's highest rates of rape ..., and the biggest HIV caseload, with some 5 million people infected.

In a ruling activists said reinforced dangerous stereotypes about AIDS and women, the judge said an "inappropriately dressed" complainant flirted with Zuma before agreeing to sleep with him, then later fabricated a rape story.

"This is huge setback for women's rights," said Dawn Cavanagh, advocacy coordinator for activist group Gender AIDS Forum. "The judge is feeding into stereotypes about women."

Judge Willem van der Merwe said it was "inexcusable" that Zuma -- who once led South Africa's anti-AIDS campaign -- had sex with an HIV-positive women without a condom, prompting an apology from the man many want as South Africa's next president. ...

But the country's best-known AIDS campaigners Treatment Action Campaign said Zuma's testimony that he took a shower after sex to minimise the risk of contracting HIV was "tragic".

"The conduct of this trial has put in question the principles of the equality of women; the prevention of HIV; the exercise of responsible sexual behaviour..." the TAC said. Activists criticised the judge for saying the accuser was inappropriately dressed, for accepting detailed testimony on her sexual history and for implying that not saying "no" means sex is consensual.

"Somewhere people have a conception of the perfect rape for a conviction, which involves a stranger, a weapon, a witness and a struggle," said Carrie Shelver, public awareness manager at People Opposing Women Abuse. "The truth is that sexual violence is not like that, it is messy, just like life."

They said Zuma had not done enough to quell sexism among his supporters, who during the trial burned pictures of the complainant outside the court and yelled "burn the bitch". ...

Several of Zuma's deeply conservative supporters -- many wearing the traditional dress of his Zulu tribe -- held placards reading "No woman for president", a reference to Phumzile Mlambo-Nguka, the woman who replaced Zuma as deputy president. ...

This is a troubling story on a few levels -- it seems to highlight problems within South Africa's legal system and political establishment in relation to gender equality and AIDS prevention, among other things.

[ 09 May 2006: Message edited by: Yossarian ]

From: an unweeded garden | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 4140

posted 09 May 2006 05:52 PM      Profile for N.Beltov   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Well, if the ANC is divided as the Reuters' piece suggests, there are positive developments taking place, nevertheless:

Gov of SA: Act Against Abuse

Here is a link to the joint statement by members of the alliance of the ANC, COSATU and the SACP:

Alliance statement on judgement in the case against ANC Deputy President Jacob Zuma

Some key remarks....

The African National Congress (ANC), South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) welcome and accept the judgement handed down today in the Johannesburg High Court acquitting ANC Deputy President Jacob Zuma of the charge of rape.

The Alliance partners have consistently indicated their support for the principled position that the law should be allowed to take its course, and that the rights and dignity of both the complainant and the accused needed to be respected and upheld.

The Alliance partners reaffirm their abhorrence of the crime of rape and all other forms of violence against women. We will continue to press for the severest possible punishments for those found guilty of such offences.

We also note the comments made by the judge around the need of all sections of society, including the media and other commentators, to respect the court and due process of law, not to proceed from a position of ignorance, and to understand that evidence led in a trial should not be taken as policy statements, particularly regarding the issue of HIV and AIDS.

Mind you, the ANC Women's League website doesn't seem to have taken note of the verdict:

ANC Women's League website

The YCL website notes that "The verdict confirms our long held view that there is no necessary connection between allegations and the truth. The truth has to be established through a fair process and be proven beyond reasonable doubt. This is in line with what we have been saying since both the rape and corruption trials against the ANC Deputy President started." But it also says...

Furthermore, the verdict does not only confirm our concern about the potential abuse of women to settle political differences by some men within the liberation movement, and the potential that this has to undermine the struggle against rape and abuse of women. But has also put to end the malicious innuendo against Deputy President regarding the allegation.

We are also aware that what has transpired during the court proceedings is going to be used by those who held a longstanding view that he should not be the president. Whilst it is the ANC's primary duty to decide on its leadership, we would like to caution against any tendency which uses selective morality and undemocratic discriminatory criteria to determine leadership within the liberation movement and society in general. The fact that he is not guilty means he is entitled to any position in society.

The YCL Press release makes mention of machinations in the Government, allegations of corruption related to this trial, media strategies, etc.

YCL Statement

Based upon a quickish read of some of the above links, it looks very much like the Alliance members look upon a trial successfully concluded as a substantial success. A Canadian wouldn't think twice about this aspect of these events. The corruption allegations seem to point to other poliitical matters intruding on the trial.

[ 09 May 2006: Message edited by: N.Beltov ]

From: Vancouver Island | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged

All times are Pacific Time  

Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic    Move Topic    Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
Hop To:

Contact Us | | Policy Statement

Copyright 2001-2008