Sometimes in the late evening I catch an episode of one of my favourite TV programmes, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. This is a crime drama series set in New York. The stories are loosely based on high profile crimes under media scrutiny. Over the years I have watched some gut-wrenching episodes, notably ones which deal with child pornography and sex-slavery of very young women.
Recently I was home and watched a particularly interesting episode (Wikipaedia tells me there have been 325 episodes of this fascinating series) on TV3. However, the one I am referring to centered around rape of women prisoners (and sometimes their families) by male correctional officers.
The abuse of power by people entrusted with law enforcement is a blot on human society. These perpetrators are scum. Those that assist them by turning a blind eye or covering for them are also scum. In the episode under discussion there are over 40 complaints lodged against this rogue officer and all are dismissed. Mariska Hargitay as Detective Olivia Benson goes undercover into the prison and arrives at justice which results in a lengthy prison sentence for the former corrections officer.
As we start (on 25 November 2013) that time of the year where we commemorate Sixteen Days of Activism Against Gender Violence we are reminded that there are many women right here in South Africa who are being sexually abused while others turn a blind eye, collaborate or simply don’t care. This one fictional drama series takes their plight seriously and brings it to the attention of the world.
I watch it because it is interesting and because I care – and the victims there always get justice, if somewhat too late for many of them.