Parents, women raise alarms about “legal rape day” rumours on social media

CAPE TOWN. – The women-led organisation 1000 Women Trust expressed its outrage, dismay, and vehement opposition against an alleged threat by groups of men on social media that 24th April will be the day on which they will “legally” rape or sexually assault women, which has raised alarms amongst parents, women, and girls.

Tina Thiart, director of 1000 Women Trust, said: “We don’t know if these threats are a hoax or real, but we call on all parents in South Africa to speak to their sons about the danger of rape to women and to the South African society. Rape is not a joke or a game. It is an act of violence against women or girls and the perpetrators who are prosecuted and found guilty can spend the rest of their lives in prison.”

Thiart was speaking about the @sayitloudspace on Instagram that warned that 24th April has been trending all over social media especially on the popular platform TikTok. A group of men have openly stated that this will be the day on which they can “legally” rape and/or sexually assault women. The men naming themselves “Incels” – a term that in short, describes a man who has not had sexual intercourse yet and blames it primarily on women for their lack of sexual engagement, alleged @sayitloudspace.

Reacting to it, a TikTok spokesperson told USA today: “Keeping our community safe is our priority, and we do not tolerate content that promotes or glorifies non-consensual sexual acts including rape and sexual assault. While we have not found evidence on our platform of any videos related to this subject, our safety team is remaining vigilant and we will remove content that violates our policies.”

USA Today said millions of social media users have viewed or shared reactions to the perceived threat on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. However, neither USA today nor TikTok could find any evidence of the threat users were responding to.

Thiart said that these rumours about a group of males threatening to rape women on 24th April must be condemned in the strongest terms and it must be vigorously investigated, as it entrenches a culture in which the rights of women is trampled upon while condoning rape as acceptable.

It is important that all South African parents take the lead and condemn these social media rumours about a rape day.

Parents have raised alarms on social media about the trend. Danielle Muniz-Silvia took to Facebook and urged fellow parents to “check in with their kids” after her daughter, a student at Merrit Island High School blocked 20 friends on messaging app Snapchat for making light of the hoax. Muniz-Silvia has multiple family members and children who have been victims of rape, so the jokes hit home.

Thiart said the 1000 Women Trust will continue to mobilise women and men to pledge time to share the importance of values like respect, kindness, consent, and healthy boundaries with their sons when dealing with women and girls. 1000 Women Trust launched a major national campaign in November 2020 to inspire parents to #MakeTime to teach their sons about the importance of gender equality and non-violence against women and daughters.

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