How can performance prevent rape?

On-stage performance can help us reimagine what we take for granted. This blog looks at how performance can explore different ways to be a woman or a man, and negotiate relationships that are flexible, fun, and freeing.

I suggest that performance can be used as a tool in rape prevention. I look at how performative methods of rape prevention may build upon and develop other forms of social education that work to end rape, creating possibilites for different ways to engage in intimate relationships.

This blog is a personal, theoretical, and performative exploration of how performance can be used in rape prevention.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Today I witnessed mob justice or outta control violence

Today I saw 30 people beat up 2 young men.
Today I saw 10 cops torture these same 2 men.

These men were beaten up cos they held a knife to me and threatened to 'poke' me with it. I gave them what they wanted. My ipod, they wanted my ipod so much they were prepared to stab me for it. I do believe they would have stabbed me. So I gave it to them.

Yes - I was mugged in downtown Johannesburg.

I yelled at two men walking down the street to help me catch the theives and we ran. We ran and ran. So fast! They were dashing across freeways (I stayed on the side and yelled - too many cars!). Then more people came. And more people. Beggars from the street joined, security ran out from everywhere. It seemed that everyone was onto these 2 men.

There were like 30 people, all chasing these two guys. People came from nowhere and everywhere. It wasn't as if they were attempting to save this 'damsel in distress'. Instead it was like 'you can't do that shit here'.

And they caught them. All 30 of people caught those 2 young men. I was screaming at them to stop becasue they all stated beating them. I was taken away by security 'Shh, don't cry. Stop - it's all ok'. 'No! Are they hurting them? What are they doing to them?' 'Shh, it's all ok'.

I was taken to the Bramfontein poilce station. It was a caravan. A small caravan. The 2 boys were thrown in. One was bleeding from the head. The other had a black eye. I had to sit across from them and identify them. Although I thought I would never remeber them, it was as clear as day. I would never forget them.

The mob had confiscated a knife and my ipod earphones from them. Yet they insisted it wasn't them. 'You're lying!' I said 'You just threatened to stab me!' the police beat them - with their fists, their batons - all in that small caravan with me crying for them to stop - until they confessed. At one stage during the hour long 'confession' the police smothered one guy with a pillow so he couldn't breathe.

The police asked them why they had mugged me. They said that they were mugged the night before, and the theives had taken everything - their money, even one guy's pants (the shorts he was now wearing did look a little too big). One guy went and got my ipod that they had stashed in the bushes. The two young men apologised to me.

We were then taken to the police station in Hillbrow. When we got there the two men jumped out of the paddy waggon and came up to me, pleading for forgiveness. They were crying, brusied, bleeding. It was so horrible. They promised to never do it again, 'How do I know you won't do it again?', 'I swear on my Mother's grave'. They said they were students, get this - they're studying hospitality and tourism.

I dropped the charges. The police were nonplussed. I gave my muggers R10 each to get home. Otherwise they'd still be stuck needing to steal money to get home! If what they were saying is true.... I don't know.

Did I do the right thing? Within my ethical system, yes, I did. But it's so different here - justice works so differently here. Did I just let 2 muggers back on the streets? Or did I just show 2 young people a different way is possible? Or neither - does just nothing happen and everything just stay the same?