The Commission for Gender Equality (GCE) has expressed its distaste for the recent cartoon by renowned cartoonist, Jonathan “Zapiro” Shapiro, which depicts a woman being raped by President Jacob Zuma and the men in the Gupta family.
The rights organisation says despite Zapiro expressing his constitutional right to have freedom of expression, with freedom comes great responsibility, too.
“Freedom comes with responsibilities, particularly when it comes to symbolisms that are being used in this regard to communicate a message to the broader society,” says Javu Baloyi, the commission’s spokesperson.
The 2016 crime statistics on sexual offences show that there were 51 895 sexual offences committed and the CGE believes these stats might not be completely accurate.
“This area of crime statistics is prone to under-reporting by victims, which suggests that the SAPS crime statistics relating to sexual offences might not be a true reflection of the current state of sexual offences in the country,” explains Baloyi.
“Clearly this indicates that the symbolism or the metaphor of rape cannot be used to equate the two as mutually inclusive.”
Speaking to News24, Zapiro says he did not take drawing the cartoon lightly but explained his actions.
“Everything I was trying to say about Jacob Zuma, and the way that he operates, the way he became president by riding roughshod over the justice system, has come true,” he said.
Zapiro was in hot water with President Zuma in 2008 for his ‘Rape of Lady Justice’ cartoon and says he wanted to take his message up a notch.
“I felt it was now time to take it one step further, and show that it’s not the justice system that has been affected, but the whole country, and he has invited other people to get involved in state capture,” he added.
Baloyi tells DRUM that they intend taking Zapiro to court and are in consultation with their legal department.
“We are taking into consideration, freedom of speech, freedom of expression but also realising that there are victims who are raped and gang raped and do not come forward out of shame,” he says. “We are looking at re-traumatisation.
Baloyi says they will commence their meetings with their legal department on next week Tuesday and come forth with a final decision.