Project MUSE - Nuttall, Sarah "Girl Bodies"

Nuttall, Sarah "Girl Bodies"
Social Text - 78 (Volume 22, Number 1), Spring 2004, pp. 17-33
Duke University Press


It is a hot day in Johannesburg, the last day of work before the summer vacation. December 2001. From the central foyer of the offices where I work, I can see into the inner city, shards of light on the glass building shaped like a diamond, the new taxi rank, one of four going up in the city for the 800,000 commuters passing through every day, the Market Theatre, and the Mandela Bridge starting to take shape. I am reading the Sowetan, South Africa's largest-selling daily newspaper. On the front page, a full-color, full-page photograph of Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs, ready to spar for the soccer cup on the weekend. On page 2, the "In Brief" column offers snippets:

R21,000 for Baby Tshepang
A non-governmental organization, the Coalition for Children's Rights (CCR), yesterday handed over R21,000 collected from the public for nine-month-old baby Tshepang, who was raped and sodomized by six men in October.

"Fire" Held over Child Support
Sundowns star midfielder Joel "Fire" Masilela is expected to appear in the Mamelodi Magistrate's Court today after he was arrested for alleged failure to pay maintenance.

The first snippet refers to a baby rape, the rape of the youngest baby yet, one of many since the start of the year, and the one that has most upset the public. The second snippet, detailing the arrest of a well-known soccer player for failure to pay maintenance to his ex-wife, reveals the law in action, protecting the rights of women, bringing to book men who try to get away without paying child support. Two snippets, mini states of the art unfolding along two South African trajectories: violent histories of the body, and rights that have come, if intermittently and in important redemptive pockets, to be protected by the most liberal constitution in the world. ..

Project MUSE


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