A volunteer from Simelela, an organization dealing with sexual violence, uses a doll to teach children about inappropriate touching and sexual abuse, at a pre-school in Cape Town’s Khayelitsha township February 17, 2010. REUTERS/Finbarr O’Reilly

Rape is a very unpleasant topic to address. Many rape victims never discuss an assault and as such opportunities to recover may dwindle with time. One assumes adults are at least equipped to deal with the emotional trauma of discussion and therapy.

What of a child victim? Child rape, an unconscionable act, not only subjects innocents to violent assault but takes advantage of the child’s (probable) lack of perspective to the sadism to which they fall victim.

Finbar O’Reilly reported today on the child rape epidemic of South Africa.

“South Africa has the highest rate of rape in the world, including child and baby rape, with one person estimated to be raped every 26 seconds, according to aid groups and local organizations.”

It is noteworthy that O’Reilly’s dispatch hit the wires the same day artist Zanele Muholi condemned Lulu Xingwana, a South African government minister, for condemning the morality of Muholi’s exhibition.*

Muholi understood Xingwana’s objection as typical of South African society in which sex and sexuality are not discussed and yet sexual violence is prevalent.

Muholi’s images are tender, intelligent. That they’d compel a government minister to publicly disassociate herself is a sign of how taboo issues of sexual empowerment are in South Africa. Muholi’s images are not problematic; if anything, they are an essential part of the solution to opening up collective awareness and ownership of one’s own body.

* I posted earlier today on Zanele Muholi’s work.