Living in constant FEAR OF RAPE
The high number of sexual crimes in South Africa still a mystery
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.
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
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.”
STATISTICS INDICATEHIGH LEVELS OF VIOLENCE