In May, 23-year-old Khensani Maseko, a student at Rhodes University in Germantown, South Africa was raped by another student.
She reported her assault in July and was scheduled to return back to school on August 6 for the commencement of an investigation. She agreed to take time away from school to process the tragic event.
On August 3, She left an enigmatic message on her Instagram page that stated, “No-one deserves to be raped!” And she then took her life.
The alleged assailant has been suspended from the university and an official investigation has been launched to ascertain the events that unfolded before Maseko’s death.
Maseko’s passing has ignited a flame in the fight for sexual violence against women in SA.
“The world has lost a jewel. It lost someone who really stood up for women,” her friend Florence Bagonza explained.
Bagonza who now lives in Uganda further explained, “There is something about Khensani that let her stand out. She was confident and when she spoke you could feel her power.” The pair met in 2016 at an event dubbed “Women of Influence.”
Maseko was explicitly vocal about the unfortunate culture of rape on her campus and in South Africa as a whole while entrenching herself in school activities; she was a member of the university’s Student Representative Council (SRF) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EEF) party student group. All the while earning her law degree.
South Africa has one of the highest rates of rape globally and many countries within the continent tend to share an idea that rape is attributed to how women behave or dress or are strictly the fault of the victim.
Sexual assault can be used as a heinous tactic in war as is the case for Kasoke Kabunga, who was raped by armed guerilla men in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Kabunga contracted HIV after her ordeal. Her daughter, who was also raped died as a result.
Seemingly, the mindset of some Africans as it relates to sexual assault tends to be un-empathetic and seen as a norm. The Gusii tribe of Kenya practice a ritual in which women are kidnapped by a suitor, then raped all in efforts to ensure marriage without the worry of paying bride prices.
A documentary exposes David of Diepsloot, South Africa who admits to raping women while fully aware that he is HIV positive. When asked how he feels about others catching the deadly disease due to his actions, he responded “I feel okay,” “I feel good because I can’t die alone.”
In May, 19-year-old Noura Hussein was sentenced to death after she killed her husband.
Hussein was forced into the marriage with the assistance of her family. When her husband wanted to consummate their union, Hussein protested. He attempted to have sex with Hussein the next day and was raped with the assistance of “his brother, a relative, and a witness, who held her down.”
“This is not just about the university, this is something that our society has failed to acknowledge,” Basonga adamantly stated.