Rape on Camera

A man on Big Brother sexually assaulted a female cast mate on camera — and network executives aired the episode and denied it was rape because the woman was conscious.

“There is no indication that she was unconscious at the time,” said Joseph Hundah, an executive at M-Net.

However, viewers of the incident, which took place on Saturday afternoon after an extended drinking bout which ended in copious vomiting and apparent blackout for Molokwu, remain adamant about what they saw: Bezuidenhout lay down next to the comatose young woman and penetrated her vagina with his fingers. He carried on despite the pleas of another female housemate for him stop. Under the law in South Africa – where, on average, a woman is sexually assaulted every 40 seconds – such an act constitutes rape.

So… as long as she wasn’t passed out it’s a-ok?

via Jezebel.


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About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
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18 Responses to Rape on Camera

  1. Roy says:

    From the article:

    Bezuindehout, defending his sexual behaviour in a show that has featured copious nudity, recently told his housemates, “Well, this is Africa.”

    What does that even mean? In what way is that a defense?

  2. EG says:

    Oh, you know, Roy. Africa is “uncivilized,” so you can’t expect men to adhere to standards of decent behavior there.

    Obviously.

    (Just a note to make it clear that the above is sarcasm.)

  3. I suppose it was only a matter of time before something like this happened. There has always been a prurient desire by the makers of Big Brother to see sexual activity between the guests, so in a sense they are at least indirectly responsible for it, having setting up the atmosphere in which this could take place.

    Ben Elton in his novel “Dead Famous” (published in 2002) described an incident almost exactly the same as this real-life one, the novel being intended as a parody of the Big Brother phenomenon. So I’m deeply saddened that this has happened, but saddest perhaps because I don’t find it surprising that it happened (and I really don’t think the country is relevant in that).

    For the record: my opinion is that if she’s incapable of saying “yes” or “no”, then it is rape. From the description, she was too drunk to indicate either consent or lack of, so there can be no excusing the behaviour.

  4. sad Lurker says:

    Ya know Jill your post made me realize- its not reality TV that i hate. Its mainstream American/frat-boy culture that I hate and reality TV just strips off the veneer of enlightenment that better scripted TV puts in place.

  5. Cara says:

    The way I read it, actually, was that it was live — but they did wait until after the assault to cut the cameras and get help.

    Unless there was a situation I didn’t hear of where the station or another station re-aired it. Which there may have been.

    In either case, that obviously excuses absolutely nothing on the producer’s part. The fact that they are denying an assault took place — though they felt the need to call an ambulance — is insane, as is the fact that they waited until the assault was complete to do anything.

    I asked this on the feministing thread, but no answers yet: does anyone know what else has happened? Was the man kicked out of the house or arrested? Did the victim leave the house? Are they going to continue the show?

    I ask not because I care about something as trivial as Big Brother (I don’t even watch it) or care about that more than the woman who was assaulted — obviously she is my first concern, which is why I want to know if he and/or she is out of the house. But I also think that how Big Brother handles this is going to be a very important reflection on attitudes towards rape and sexual assault, and because I’m sure that Big Brother South Africa is financially related to all of the other shows in the Big Brother franchise, and what they do does in fact reflect on the show as a whole.

  6. Cecily says:

    One of the things about society’s attitude towards rape that I really don’t get is…do they think it’s inherently pleasant, or inherently neutral, to have things stuck in your body? I submit that if I walked up to some guy on the street and blasted an airhorn in his ear, that person would be considered wronged and I’d be quite vulnerable to legal action. But he never TOLD me they didn’t want an airhorn blasted in their ear! I just assumed he would think it was zany fun!

    No one would buy that for an instant, and yet actual physical contact, having something STUCK INSIDE YOUR BODY? Society assumes we are AOK with it unless we lodge a cogent protest backed up with near-lethal force.

  7. Cecily says:

    Oops, should read “he didn’t want an airhorn blasted in his ear”. Pronoun games failed.

  8. kali says:

    SnowdropExplodes: you just reminded me of one of the creepiest things I ever saw on TV, which was in the UK Big Brother 6, when the horrendous Anthony had passed out drunk and was being pawed at by the even more horrendous Craig. As far as I remember, the cameras were cut for quite a while that night, and there were strong rumours that much worse things had happened that didn’t get aired. (yes, I am fascinated by BB. Or I was till this year, when the mix of personalities was too monotonously unpleasant for even me to tolerate watching.) I know that in BB UK they will push things up to the point where they risk getting taken off the air, and then basically cover it up when the unpleasantness goes too far. The producers have no concern whatsoever for the welfare of the housemates.
    I do think the country has something to do with it, in that in the UK at least, that segment wouldn’t have been aired for fear of falling foul of broadcasting standards, (and criminal prosecution? The producers were complicit in a crime, here.) But just because they wouldn’t have aired it doesn’t mean they wouldn’t have let it happen, and let the housemate go unpunished.

  9. EG says:

    Word, Cecily. My default position on almost every single object and body part in the world is “I don’t want that in my vagina.” There is a very, very, very narrow grouping of objects and body parts for which I will sometimes make an exception (for instance, I usually do not want tampons in my vagina, but three days out of the month, I do). Why anybody would assume that a given object or body part is welcome, I just don’t understand.

    Except that since I understand the existence of sexism, I do understand.

  10. Mnemosyne says:

    I submit that if I walked up to some guy on the street and blasted an airhorn in his ear, that person would be considered wronged and I’d be quite vulnerable to legal action. But he never TOLD me they didn’t want an airhorn blasted in their ear! I just assumed he would think it was zany fun!

    Even better — if you walked up to someone and stuck a Q-Tip in their ear or up their nose. Hey, he never said he didn’t want a Q-Tip up his nose, so how were you to know not to do it? He should have fought back harder if he didn’t want a Q-Tip up his nose.

  11. Dennis says:

    Mnemosyne,

    “I didn’t insert the q-tip with more than the usual amount of force!”

  12. Beth says:

    Did anyone else notice this “related link” on the First Post page with this story: The Rapex which is meant to be “worn internally by women. The hollow inside is lined with rows of razor-sharp hooks, which are designed to latch on to a rapist’s penis during penetration. They can only be removed by a doctor.”

    Not sure what to think about that. I do share the concern that such injury could incite a rapist to greater violence….

  13. Paraponera says:

    Oh yes, it’s all BB’s fault… The fact that South Africa is known as the “rape capital of the world” has absolutely nothing to do with it. Nope. Death to common sense, long live the multiculturalist revolution!

  14. Parapluie says:

    Beth-

    I think that’s because the Rapex is mainly available in South Africa, where this also took place.

  15. charles says:

    nice paraponera. since rape happens all the time in South Africa BB can’t be blamed if they set it up, let it happen, and then profit from it.
    and anyway, we all know rape is caused by multiculturalism (crazy). i know there’s lots of sickos on the internet, but i’ll admit i honestly didn’t think anyone would take up for the rape-enablers on BB.

    what a sick puppy to believe rape isn’t a problem, multiculturalism is a problem.

  16. Cecily says:

    charles, let’s be fair — I don’t think the comment is saying that multiculturalism causes rape. I think it’s saying that not putting the blame entirely on Africans for being African is misguided. Therefore, “multiculturalism” means “anti-racism”, and now that I know that, I can go out into the world and make SO many bullshit things make more sense! Awesome, thanks, driveby commenter!

  17. Ya know Jill your post made me realize- its not reality TV that i hate.

    Actually, I think that is being too kind to reality television. I really hate it.

    What we have is a network scared to death of a controversy. They decide to go into full coverup mode. What they should have done is kick the guy off the show and informed local law enforcement. That would create a debate about the dangers of crappy reality TV. That is the last thing Big Brother producers and it’s network enablers want.

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