Rape has been high on South Africa’s news agenda throughout 2013. This is largely due to the violent and brutal rape of Anene Booysen that has been making numerous headlines. This essay looks at three different news stories covering the issue of rape. To a certain extent news story one creates an idealistic interpretation of change in South Africa. It portrays the people as well as the government effectively standing up against rape. News story two provides a more pessimistic perspective on the fight against rape in South Africa. News Story three questions whether the rape of Booysen will finally bring about change in South Africa. The interpretation of this article suggests that more pressure should be placed on the government, especially on women politicians. This essay will explore the differences and similarities between these three stories as well as the storytelling strategies.
News story one’s headline gives a brief description of what the story entails. The headline renders attention by using sensational words like ‘horrified’. The headline is in active voice which supports the suggestion of the article; South Africa is dynamically combating the rape epidemic. Various people are quoted in this article. Protesters strongly opposed to the granting of bail to the accused are quoted, shaping the idea that South Africans have had enough and rape will no longer be taken lightly. President Jacob Zuma is also quoted articulating feelings of outrage and requesting the worst possible sentence for the rapists and killers. Lule Xingwana, the Minster of Women, agrees with Zuma. This suggests that the South African politicians are also actively involved in the struggle against rape.
People whom are not quoted also need to be taken into account. This article does not mention anything about surviving victims of rape and how their cases were treated. This may be because this article aims for a positive interpretation in light of change in South Africa. Another rape incident where police arrest the culprit is mentioned. This supports the positive perspective that the article provides.
The severity of rape is also addressed by how often rape occurs and how many cases are convicted. However, the interpretation of the story still suggests that effective measures are being taken to end gender-based violence. This positivity may be due to the fact that it is an international news source and it is removed from the immediate environment, and thus does not fully comprehend it.
Article two’s stance differs from article one. Simply from looking at the headline the audience can already form their opinion about rape in South Africa. This story compares the movement against rape in both South Africa and India after two brutal rape occurrences in each country. It is framed in a way to question South Africa’s response to rape. It places the emphasis on South Africa’s apathy and its reluctance to address rape. This causes the reader to place the blame of the ineffectiveness on the South African government and police.
Where the first news story suggests that sweeping changes are being made, a more negative interpretation is formed while reading this story and South Africa is made out to be passive. There is also an alteration in the type of people that are quoted and mentioned. Andisiwe Kawa, a rape victim, is mentioned in this article. Instead of stating politicians’ plans and proposals on controlling rape, it exposes how surviving rape victims are truly dealt with. This creates the impression that, despite the wide-spread media attention, fundamentally addressing rape is not high on the South African political agenda.
This article includes statistics to support its perspective of rape in South Africa. It is an effective tool to convincing the audience of the regularity and brutality of rape in South Africa. It permits the reader to view rape in a broader context (Newham & Tiegreen, 2008).
Where story one is ideological about change in South Africa and story two slightly cynical, story three poses the question whether or not the case of Anene Booysen will finally create mass action against rape in South Africa. This question headline provokes curiosity in the reader. Similar to story two, it compares India’s campaign against rape to South Africa’s. Although this story is not as pessimistic about reforms, the overall perspective is still negative. Other occurrences of rape are present in this article. This has a similar effect to adding statistics as it provides a broader context of the issue at hand so that the readers can understand its severity.
This story is framed to place more responsibility on the government of South Africa. This is done by emphasizing the effectiveness of the outcry in India in contrast to the inadequate response in South Africa. It also places more effort on the South African government by insisting that the government should financially assist anti-rape organisations. Additional pressure is added to women in the government as women politicians are accused of ‘not doing enough’. The function and effect of ANC’s Women League is also discussed. This creates an underlying assumption that rape is primarily women’s problem and that it is their responsibility to combat it.
These three stories all acknowledge the severity of rape. Story one differs from story two and three as it is creates a more idealistic interpretation about the changes implemented in South Africa. Story two and three both compare the reaction of India and South Africa when brutal rape cases occurred in both countries. Story two places emphasis on South Africa’s apathy to combat rape. The reader will interpret the ineffectiveness of anti-rape campaigns as a result of government inaction. Story three places the responsibility to bring about change on the government and especially women politicians. This suggests that rape is still largely only women’s problem. Statistics and other incidents of rape are included in these stories as a tool to support each story’s angle.
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