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Every three minutes a child is abused

This article was posted on Monday, August 17th, 2009

severy-3-minutes

Statistics released in a Solidarity report a few months ago said that a child is abused every three minutes in South Africa. EVERY THREE MINUTES! That calculates to 530 child rapes each and every day.

Take a moment, maybe just three short minutes to let this fact resonate.

South Africa; a country that easily unites fans around sports fields, TV sets and in bars and restaurants to support and cheer for men in green and gold; a country who mobilises thousands to demand higher wages, and in turn cripple the public transport system in the midst of an economic downturn; a country who tallies up over 2 million SMS votes for the talented (or not-so talented) Idol wannabes; a country so swept up in the trend of plastic shoes called Crocs that millions have been sold in recent years.

Please understand that I too never miss a Boks match, I, also in fact supported the Metro Bus strike, I even have to admit that I think Jason (joint Idol winner) deserved the recognition he got, but why then, if we can line streets to wave on and celebrate a rugby team’s return from a World Cup win, take action to force fair wages, SMS in mass – so much so that the networks battle to cope, and even spend millions of Rand on the ugliest shoes to set foot on African soil, can we not do something to stop the horrific increase in child abuse?

Take another moment, maybe just another three minutes to contemplate the answer to our nations’ seeming apathy to this moral pandemic.
This past weekend, my kids and I were watching TV when the Childline ad aired. The ad starts with a man doing up his trousers at the side of a child’s bed and ends with the waking child having been transported by his stuffed toys-brought-to-life, to a phone booth in the middle of a beautiful field, dialing 08000 55555. Our shared viewing sparked some awkward questions from my kids and some serious thinking for me, of which this article is the result.

As someone involved every day in the strategic and creative process of marketing and selling concepts, services and products to the market that is South Africa, I’ve been contemplating how we can market and sell the concept of standing together to stop the atrocities committed against our children. And maybe, most importantly before we start the creative process, ask ourselves why what has been done in the past has not had the desired effect.

My answer to the latter is in short; the mirror. We are far more comfortable looking at our South African reflection and seeing Habanna dive over for a winning try, a young Idol showered with confetti, the most desperate striking worker exercise his / her right to march and picket or even thousands of Crocs rather than the picture of a bruised and broken child staring back at us from dry eyes because they have no more tears to cry. We are afraid of showing the reality because it is ugly! It makes us look ugly!

What defines us as a nation? The now-Big 7, the Madiba legend, the promise of 2010 or the 530 children raped every day? If statistics were to count, then we are a nation of rapists and ineffective sympathisers.

So in answer to my first question, how can we make a difference, I challenge all my contemporaries in our industry to use our strategic and creative power, not to win awards with the free reign allowed us on a pro-bona job, but to focus our nation’s minds and consciousness by refusing to tread even close to the line of depicting children in a vulnerable way, tackling positions that challenge our nations’ morality in any way and to use our power of social networking, communication and media to expose these facts, spur the impassive into action.

If a world’s consciousness can be focused on the passing of a past Pop icon via obsessed media, to such a great extent that his work sells better in the week post his death than it has in recent years, then I propose that we replace the MJ eulogies, groups, tributes, following on Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, news websites etc with South African substance that is relevant.

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