Zapiro Rape Cartoon Controversy

My buddy, Jonathan "Zapiro" Shapiro is having
a bit of a cartoon controversy down in South Africa with the
Zuma rape cartoon (right). Here are some excerpts from a Los Angeles Times article about the cartoon:

The cartoon shows Zuma preparing to rape
the justice system, portrayed as a blindfolded woman pinned down
by his political allies in the ANC, the Communist Party, unions
and the ANC Youth League.

Published in the Sunday Times of Johannesburg,
the cartoon lampoons a campaign by Zuma’s supporters to throw
out charges of corruption, fraud and racketeering that he faces
so he can seek South Africa’s presidency. In a country with one
of the world’s highest rates of rape — and one deeply divided
between supporters and opponents of Zuma, who was acquitted of
rape charges in 2006 — the drawing has been explosive.

The nation’s high court is due to rule
today on Zuma’s bid to have the charges against him dismissed

As he has done since the 2006 rape trial, Zapiro drew Zuma as
having a shower sprouting from his head — a reference to the
party leader’s testimony that to avoid AIDS he showered after
having unprotected sex with an HIV-positive woman. Zuma has thrice
sued the cartoonist for libel. Two suits were withdrawn; the
third is pending.

Quotes from Jonathan:

The central message is that Jacob Zuma
is about to violate and rape the justice system with the help
of his political allies. Justice is an allegorical figure but
she does have a certain amount of humanity in the way I’ve drawn
her, which added to the shock value. It’s [Zuma’s] own rape trial,
for which he was acquitted, that makes it more explosive.

It wasn’t my being worried about Zuma’s
rape trial that made me think twice, three times, four times,
five times before doing this drawing. It was women’s feelings
I was more worried about. I sent the cartoon around to some very
trusted female friends. The initial shock at seeing the drawing
almost made people draw breath. You gasp when you see it. But
within a brief amount of time they considered the drawing and
said it’s valid both in terms of what it’s saying about Zuma’s
violation of our justice system and our constitutional tenets
but also in terms of the very violent and patriarchal society
that we have …

There were plenty of people who were offended by it, but what
I found fascinating is that on some of the talk shows where I
have taken some flak, the proportion of flak-givers is much higher
from men than women. There was one call that came from a gang-rape
victim, who said that she was shocked by it and felt very uncomfortable,
but then she proceeded to support it.

By Daryl Cagle

Daryl Cagle is the founder and owner of Cagle Cartoons, Inc. He is one of the most widely published editorial cartoonists and is also the editor of The Cagle Post. For the past 35 years, Daryl has been one of America’s most prolific cartoonists.