Should rapists be chemically castrated?

Chemical castration is apparently the new punishment of choice for rapists – for the ANC’s often moribund Women’s League that is.

League president Bathabile Dlamini, who isn’t perhaps a natural standard bearer for gender sensitivity, wants rapists jailed, denied parole and – and chemically castrated.

She also wants gender studies included in the school curriculum and for judges, police and lawyers dealing with women abuse cases to be able to deal with gender abuse cases.

You can’t argue with any of what she wants; it’s like motherhood and apple pie; men shouldn’t be beating the hell out women, forcing them to have sex or killing them. We all know this. The problem is that it doesn’t seem to matter in this country, we just can’t stop ourselves.

Catching rapists, convicting them, jailing them for life, hanging them in dungeons by their entrails, feeding them a diet of their own ordure or, in the immortal words of one former law enforcement spokesman, having them repeatedly anally raped by other inmates, all makes for wonderful headlines but overlooks a couple of salient points: only a fraction of rapists are ever arrested, never mind tried and convicted; and, the entire process is a double jeopardy for the rape survivor who has to relive the ordeal in an adversarial system set up to shred her testimony.

Men keep on raping because they are allowed to. The system enables them. The Women’s League has supported alleged rapists and women beaters in the past, not covertly but quite openly, political expedience trumping any supposed universal sisterhood.

But they aren’t the only ones. Homophobic patriarchy is a virus that infects this entire society; like Magistrate Kholeka Bodlani who freed a man on charges of raping a teenager because he styled his hair, carried a bag and did the dishes, meant he had to be gay and therefore uninterested in women.

All of which pales into insignificance with the speedster who flew down the N1 South near Midrand at 308km/h last weekend. We know he did this because he took one hand off the wheel to get his cell phone to film it – which he then posted to social media.

It’s difficult to know which is more mind-boggling, the selfishness of turning your vehicle into a missile on a public road or the overweening arrogance to film yourself doing it. Thanks to social activist Yusuf Abramjee though he was eventually brought to book – arrested ironically at a funeral he was attending on Sunday.

Perhaps Dlamini has a point, we should be considering chemical castration, not for the convicted rapists but for rather all the rampant ambassadors of toxic masculinity. That way we could seriously curb the spate of gender-based violence once and for all, well before it becomes rape or murder.

If we do that though, maybe we should consider electro-convulsive shock therapy? We can use it on everyone who stands silent when they should be screaming their outrage from the rooftops.

Perhaps the Women’s League can provide the first test candidates?

Originally published on 1 February 2020 in the Saturday Star