Avishkar Govender
Avishkar Govender

Sex offenders must be stopped

There is no greater crime than that of a sexual offence. Chimpanzees, you see, practise rape as a sort of demonstration of hierarchical dominance. They have no control over the inclination to rape in order to demonstrate power. It is clear that the opposable thumb may assist in pinning down the victim but the faculty to identify the act in itself as a violation of the rights of the victim is absent from the chimpanzees’ worldview.

Thankfully we humans, being more evolved than chimpanzees, realise that violations of the right to consent over the actions of the body, the mind, the soul, the self and the person of the individual are counter-intuitive to the object of a free, responsible, equitable and just society.

This has led us as a global society to enshrine the protection of the rights of people as unique and individual persons through various national and international charters and agreements and most importantly for our own purposes through the South African Bill of Rights.

In these declarations and attestations to the superior evolution of humankind we have asserted that individual persons have the right to the ownership of property and ownership over their selves, and thus the inalienable right of control and the prerogative of consent over their selves. This means that nobody can force, coerce, extort or blackmail you into doing anything. This means that every tyrannical dictatorship which has defiled the rule of law and violated the rights of innocent civilians is in contravention of our generally accepted human-rights practices.

Now the implementation of our generally accepted human-rights practices on a globally equitable basis is at best a laughable and somewhat comedic game of brinkmanship and bribery. We regularly see otherwise respectable leaders covering up for their buddies and cronies effectively providing the means for the continuance of the atrocities, in the name of “future mutually beneficial bilateral trade flows” while the victims bleed and die.

Naturally the imbalances between the citizens of highly industrialised nations and those of developing nations mean that, while there are no Western Europeans or North Americans who are currently the victims of genocide, innocent people are sacrificed on the alter of tyranny in the absence of an impartial judiciary all over South America, Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia.

And obviously within the complexities of these vicious and violent places, imbalances between the rich and poor ensure that the wealthy do not suffer as much as the poor. The imbalance of power relations between the sexes, genders and orientations have also ensured that it’s not so much the straight-laced men who find themselves the victims of abuse and violation.

In respect of which it is important to note that though men are sometimes the victims of sexual crimes, it is usually women and children who are the victims. Children being minors, that is being people under the age of twenty years of age (the age of the attainment of majority), have no capacity to utter consent in respect of sexual activities, and while the age limitation for statutory rape may bounce between sixteen and nineteen years old, the fact is that for as long as the individual is under twenty one years old, they could be an unassisted minor, such that if they choose to consent to sexual activity without such a decision being countermanded by their parent or guardian, that they (the minors) cannot be held liable for the outcome of the activity.

Thus if a woman who is seventeen and her boyfriend who is nineteen, engage in copulation, without the consent of their parents or guardians, then the responsibilities which flow from outcomes of that copulation cannot be for their discharge. That is that if they should conceive a child during such an act, then the decision to carry the pregnancy to term or to terminate the pregnancy is not a decision to be made by the two lovers without the consent of their parents because they were both unassisted minors in the course of creating the responsibility in the first instance.

Similarly though many a paedophile and child molester has claimed ingeniously that his or her victims consented to the activities, it is clear that persons under the age of twenty-one may only have sex or engage in sexual activity with the express permission of their parents and/or guardians, who naturally will never give such consent to a child abuser.

If it transpires that persons who have not given, by reason of having being unable to give, consent to sexual activities, are involved in such activities, it must be that such activities occur against the will of the persons, the guardians, the law and the state. It must also be that the punishments meted out for such offences and to such offenders should be severe enough so as to proactively discourage this sort of inexcusable behaviour among people in the future.

Such is the case of women who are raped, harassed, abused, victimised and sexually assaulted, usually by men that they know, but also often by complete strangers who have pounced on their vulnerability. We have but the slim hope of justice when our vulnerable and weak become the prey of vengeful and malicious people seeking the momentary exhilaration of power over their victim in a sado-masochistic ritual of self immolation.

There is no such thing as an abuser, rapist or a stalker who does not know that what they are doing is wrong. Psychoses may subsist in a perpetrator of sexual crimes but it is impossible that someone who commits sexual crimes, will misinterpret the withholding and denial of consent, emanating from the victim, as being instead the victim’s consent.

That is that there is no way that any form of a functional psychosis would create the conditions of a perpetrator honestly believing that “no” means “yes”, as this would only subsist in a socio-pathological condition (which is in itself a nuanced form of dishonesty) or in a psychosis, which would render the perpetrator incapable of crossing roads or tying their shoelaces, if they honestly believe that “no” means “yes” (or that “stop” means “go” for that matter).

And that is why sexual crimes are acts of self immolation because it is in itself the act of destroying the life and soul of another innocent person, such that it becomes a self-destructive act for the perpetrator to commit.

Thus no perpetrator can commit sexual crimes and feel no fear, no remorse or no regret, as it will be clear to them in the prelude to the abuse, during the abuse and in the aftermath of the abuse that they have done something wrong and inexcusable. This is manifested in violent husbands propitiating their wife-victims with meaningless trinkets and gifts in apology for the abuse. This is also manifested in perpetrators threatening their victims with further violence should their sexual crimes be reported.

And this is the evidence which says that the perpetrators know that it is wrong to commit sexual and related crimes. For if they were proud of their abuse they would not offer apologies and would not live in fear of the criminal justice system as they do. Thus we cannot at any level accept that sexual criminals are mentally ill or in any way incapable of accepting responsibility for their crimes.

Further to which, while we will advocate rehabilitation, I would be very hesitant to say that it is possible to rehabilitate a rapist, a child abuser, a child molester, a wife beater, a stalker or a sexual harasser. Simply because these are people, who have become adept at flying under the radar, are able to commit crimes with impunity and make other people believe that they are not dangerous and not evil. So it would the easiest thing for instance for a paedophile to convince a parole board that he is rehabilitated. It’s just a matter of making the message fit with the psychology, as most sexual criminals are adept at doing.

So we need to incarcerate and rehabilitate the mentally stable, sexual criminals in correctional centres and we have to commit the mentally ill, sexual criminals to life in psychiatric asylums, where we have to ensure that those who can be made mentally stable, without any dependence on chronic psychiatric medication, are transferred back to the correctional centres for rehabilitation and behavioural therapy.

The problem with this is that in South Africa, as in most countries, though the law and human rights in print may protect the victims, the reality is that victims in most instances remain victims after the crime. More than half of all sexual crimes are not reported to the police because victims fear the recriminations. After all, isn’t it true that a man is entitled to have sex with his wife whenever he wants and to beat her should she refuse? No, I didn’t think so.

This creates two problems, firstly that the sex offenders don’t get caught and convicted effectively and secondly, that the existence of the practise of the sexual crime is not proscribed by social rejection. That is that rapists are inadvertently able to rape with impunity and that domestic violence is not excoriated by the community, so as to prevent it from happening.

In order to stop sex offenders we have to do three things. First, we must decide that we as a nation will no longer tolerate sexual and related crimes and abuse, either in act or in impunity. Second, we must decide that we as a nation will not allow victims to be further victimised and that as communities we will extend support, counselling and protection to all who need it. And finally, that we must develop an effective system for profiling sexual behaviour and personality types to be able to predict behaviour patterns which may lead to abusive, violent and sexually criminal behaviours.

In the process of typifying the behaviour patterns of abuse, we are faced with the reality that a large number of sexual criminals are in fact ordinary, everyday people, who commit sexual harassment every time they lean out of a motorcar window to wolf whistle at women they do not know, in any sense of the word “know”. We are faced with the reality that a number of rape, abuse and indeed harassment cases and allegations are fabricated in aid of personal agendas. And we are faced with the reality that we cannot know how people have been hurt unless they come forward to seek care.

Therefore it is clear that if we wish to rid society of the evils of sexual crimes, which violate the very sanctity of the integrity of the person’s self, so as to be akin to the degradation, diminishment and destruction of property, that we must first start with sexual behaviour in the normal sense and look at why and how deviancy occurs. By this I mean deviancy in the form of rape and abuse, not in the form of alternative, consensual sexual orientation.

Inadequacy and disempowerment are, in my humble opinion, the common threads which bind all sexual criminals, wife beaters, child molesters and rapists together. Perhaps after having identified people who predispose to abusive behaviour, we should seek to ensure that they are made to feel less inadequate and more empowered, such that they don’t seek the twisted pleasure of the sexual or related crime.

However this presupposes the existence of a nanny state, which we are not close to establishing, and the dangerous paradigm of witch-hunts, vigilantism, kangaroo courts and the like, which while dispensing swift justice to sexual criminals, do not do so in the full context of the rule of law, which is wrong, irrespective of how scummy the sex offender is in reality.

Therefore the only real solution that will enable us to stop sex offenders is to empower and capacitate communities to convene community hearings to be presided over by ward councillors, ward committees as well as the traditional, religious and community leaders in the locality of the community. These community hearings must determine whether a person, as a sexual or related criminal, accused or convict, is fit to be a member of that community and offer people rehabilitative and curative help if they so need it or excommunicate people if they refuse treatment. These hearings must be open to the public, must NOT take public evidence from the victims or the witnesses and must simply be about giving the accused the opportunity of proving that they are in fact not guilty.

Naturally these hearings must comply with the rule of law and our generally accepted human-rights practices. In addition to this, we must make provision for the registration and GPS tagging of paroled and convicted sexual criminals as well as those sexual criminals who are in rehabilitation and therapy in order to make our communities safer.

Rape is such a heinous thing that a life sentence for the criminal is not sufficient justice for the victim. The suppressed trauma of a violent childhood may only manifest itself forty years later in the form of the previous victim perpetrating child molestation against their own or other children, thus perpetuating the intergenerational abuse into the future.

We must decide what we as a society want, whether we want a sick society that is plagued by idiots raping virgins in the deluded hope of evading HIV or whether we want a prosperous, caring, open society which educates all people so that they do not contract HIV in the first place. One wonders who is responsible for the HIV-Aids denial in South Africa. Whoever that person is, he or she is the biggest and foremost sex offender in South Africa and if they deny that they are, then they are psychotic and must be committed. If they admit that their HIV-Aids denial was wrong, then they are socio-pathic and therefore unfit for public office and unworthy of the public’s trust.

Factually the transmission of HIV or any form of a STD or STI from one person to another, whether knowingly or unknowingly, whether wilful or not, is an act of assault with the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm. In the case of HIV it is attempted murder and the conspiracy to commit murder. So if we have more than three million HIV+ people who are the victims of sexual crimes, surely our government should be doing something to protect these people and others who have not as yet become victims? Or are we to assume that we have slipped off the evolutionary scale and have receded to the state of chimpanzees with their simian immunodeficiency virus and the inability to determine that rape is wrong?