Liv­ing in con­stant FEAR OF RAPE

The high num­ber of sex­ual crimes in South Africa still a mys­tery

Move! - - ISSUE - By Phaka­mani Mve­lashe

THE Con­sti­tu­tion of South Africa safe­guards the rights of cit­i­zens. But women and girls are liv­ing in con­stant fear of be­ing raped. Shock­ing state­ments by men on the streets that a wo­man wear­ing a miniskirt is invit­ing rape are still per­pet­u­ated by some peo­ple.


The South African Po­lice Ser­vice re­ports that more than 40 000 rape cases were re­ported in the last two years. How­ever, Africa Check, an or­gan­i­sa­tion that aims to im­prove fact check­ing and news gath­er­ing in Africa, says due to a lack of re­search, the num­ber of rapes com­mit­ted each year in South Africa can­not be ac­cu­rately es­ti­mated. It is a fact that un­der-re­port­ing of sex­ual of­fences is com­mon.

Sim­ply put, be­yond the of­fi­cial num­ber of cases re­ported to the SAPS, we do not know the true ex­tent of rape and sex­ual as­sault in South Africa. Ac­cord­ing to the SAPS re­search unit, sta­tis­tics in­di­cate high lev­els of vi­o­lence against women.

“When vi­o­lence against women is ex­am­ined, it is clear that sex­ual of­fences and as­sault are com­mon crimes against women. This is in­dica­tive of the high do­mes­tic vi­o­lence rates in SA, and sex­ual crimes,” says the unit in a re­port.

THE JUS­TICE IS UN­SEEN The unit ad­mits that stats are not clear and thus it is dif­fi­cult to as­sess the scale of the prob­lem. There is a huge dis­par­ity between the num­bers of re­ported cases which re­sulted in con­vic­tions com­pared to those fi­nalised in one year.

Jeanne Bo­den­stein, an Ad­vo­cacy Co­or­di­na­tor at Rape Cri­sis Cape Town Trust which sup­ports the re­cov­ery of rape sur­vivors and those seek­ing jus­tice, says stud­ies show that only one in ev­ery 13 cases is re­ported to the po­lice.

But Jeanne is op­ti­mistic that things could change for the bet­ter when it comes to rape cases.

“The crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem is not re­ally work­ing ef­fec­tively to ad­dress rape. The jus­tice sys­tem con­sists of var­i­ous role play­ers (po­lice, courts, foren­sic units, and de­tec­tive ser­vices) and the only way to re­ally en­sure higher con­vic­tion rates and less sec­ondary trauma for the sur­vivors is to make sure that sur­vivors are sup­ported through­out the sys­tem and that spe­cialised ser­vices are pro­vided. That is why we are very ex­cited about the roll-out of sex­ual of­fences court by the Depart­ment of Jus­tice. Our Rape Sur­vivors’ Jus­tice Cam­paign aims to make sure that gov­ern­ment holds to its prom­ises to roll-out th­ese courts.”


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