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Thursday, 28 June 2007

emotive chain letters

Today, I received an emotive email asking me to petition against the closure of a South African institution in Capetown that polices child abuse. Having read the email, I almost put my name on the bottom and forwarded the petition to unsuspecting friends and family. 

I Googled "Cape Town 9-month baby raped by 6 men" and found that the email was a hoax and the institution in question was never closed. Furthermore, the hoax was rampant during 2001- 2002; I received the mail five years after such a hoax was rampant. 
At first, I figured it was a crafty bastard's handiwork - an impression of a practical joke. Bored out of the quotidian life, s/he crafted a fake petition and forwarded it to friends and family.

It turns out the petition was actually taken out in 2001, among rumours of the close down of South Africa's Child Protection Unit. It has been circulating the internet ever since fueled by the average unsuspecting reader's sympathy for children and execration for paedophiles. 
The fact that, appalled by the news, 434 well intentioned people (among thousands more who received, read, signed and forwarded) had wasted bandwidth and time for a lost cause irritated me. I am sure thousands more will follow suit and only add to the waste.
Furthermore, I almost abetted in furthering a lost cause. 
The road to hell is full of fcking good intentions, ain't it! 

update: 2 November, 2008

On the contrary, the hoax chain mail does serve a purpose - it sheds light on the fact that child rapes/molestations actually do occur. In 2001, BBC reported of numerous incidents of child rapes in South Africa. According to the report, the cause behind the sudden increase in child rapes was the belief among African men that having sex with a virgin cures all STD's including AIDS.

Excerpts of the chain mail
Outrage in South Africa … Last week a 3 year old girl was beaten and raped … The man responsible was released … If you are too busy to read this then … The Government is planning to close the child protection unit and this is a petition against it … You may have already heard that there’s a myth in South Africa that
having sex with a virgin will cure AIDS … Recently in Cape Town, a 9-month-old baby was raped by 6 men. Please think about that for a moment … Please don’t be complacent, do something … You can make a difference …
  Excerpts of news reports of the actual incident

A 9-month old baby girl is in a serious condition in hospital in Upington after having been raped by 6 adult men, who were allegedly all drunk at the time. The child's teenaged mother was arrested at the same time, also allegedly drunk. ("Raped baby faces series of operations", DailyNews 30 October 2001).
("Not even animals would do this", The Star 29 October 2001). The men's ages ranged from 24 to 66. If they
weren't too drunk to "get it up" and physically rape the child, then they certainly weren't too drunk to know what they were doing. And that's the really horrifying thing.
There's more on this story here

Read's take on the story.


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