South Africans are shocked and outraged over a disturbing video of seven teenage boys and young men sexually assaulting a mentally-handicapped teenage girl that has gone viral.
The video, recorded on a cell phone, shows the men gang raping the 17-year-old girl who went missing March 21 and offering her 25 cents to keep quiet.
“The girl can be heard pleading with the boys to stop. They crudely jest and crassly spur one another on,” journalist Mandy Weiner reported.
The accused range in age from 14 to 20 years old and are suspected of holding the girl as a sex slave in a Soweto township. Police found the girl on Wednesday in the home of a 37-year-old man who has also been arrested.
CNN reports that the Daily Sun, a local tabloid, alerted the police after a concerned mother whose daughter was watching the video handed it over to the paper on Tuesday. The mother confiscated her daughter’s phone and a work colleague said they recognized some of the boys and advised her to take the video to the newspaper.
According to Reuters, a front page editorial of the Star newspaper, one of South Africa’s biggest-circulation dailies, labeled the incident “Our Disgrace,” and government spokesman Jimmy Manyi described it as a “barbaric act.”
For as much discussion as the rape has raised, it’s unfortunately not all that uncommon of a crime in the country. Non-Governmental Organizations estimate a woman is raped every 26 seconds in the country. Other estimates say an average of 181 people are raped or sexually assaulted per day.
The men appeared in court yesterday and prosecutors said they could seek life in prison for the crime. They are being held until their next court date next week as the rest of the country continues to react.
“This episode must force us to take a serious look at ourselves and ask: how did we get here?” the Star editorial read. “How did we, as a people, raise monsters who find a joke in this repugnant act.”
Check out a video of CNN’s coverage below.
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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