Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Big Brother Africa Airs Sexual Assault

South Africa has the world's highest rate of sexual assault with 1.7 million women sexually assaulted each year, only most of the assaults aren't broadcast on national television. Last week, the popular African version of Big Brother broadcast an episode featuring one cast member penetrating another cast member's vagina with his fingers while she was clearly unconscious and unable to consent.

M-Net, which airs the show to a million-plus subscribers in South Africa, disputes the audience's version of events in the Big Brother house in Johannesburg, saying that if a "non-consensual physical relationship" began there, the producers - Endemol SA - would have intervened. "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.

Bezuidenhout, who is married, finally desisted and went off to sit by himself while drunkenly sniffing his fingers. At this point the producers of the show did intervene, sending paramedics into the house and cutting the live feed.

When confronted about his attack, Bezuidenhout responded, "Well, this is Africa."

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