Cape Town – Violence against women in South Africa continues to grab headlines and the country’s rape rate is among the highest.
According to the Rape Crisis Centre, 12 times more women are raped and then murdered in South Africa every year than in the US.
It is estimated that 40% of South African women will be raped in their lifetime and only 8.6% of rape perpetrators are convicted.
Unfortunately, most people believe rape only occurs in dark alleyways. But Rape Crisis Centre’s new campaign indicates the truth is closer to home.
The campaign aims at highlighting that approximately 68% of rape survivors know their rapist. They have had their trust broken in the workplace, home and communities.
They have been betrayed by a friend, husband, family member or colleague.
Rape Crisis Centre director Kathleen Dey said: “The campaign is designed to create awareness through discomfort. Two in three South African rape victims are raped by someone they know; a shocking statistic that needs to be addressed.”
In the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA’s) 2016/2017 annual report shows there is a 91.8% conviction rate for copper theft. This means you are more likely to serve jail time for copper theft than rape.
Statistics given by author Dee Smythe also assert that “about 150 women report being raped to the police in South Africa daily. Fewer than 30 of the cases will be prosecuted, and no more than 10 will result in a conviction. This translates into an overall conviction rate of 4% to 8% of reported cases”.
Ebenhezer Seemise, an intervention specialist at the Tears Foundation, said the majority of rapes occured in so-called safe spaces.
Seemise said less than 9% of rapes were committed by strangers and women are more likely raped in their homes and in their workplaces, where they are less likely to be believed and even less likely to report it.
According to a report by the Medical Research Council titled “Rape Justice in South Africa”, most rapes perpetrated by someone familiar to the woman occurred in residences.
Most rapes committed by a stranger occurred in open spaces, by a road or in alleys.
In two-thirds of cases, perpetrators used physical force.
In 31% of cases perpetrators had weapons and a firearm in 7% of cases.
In 16.6% of cases, there were multiple perpetrators.
Rape survivor Nelisiwe Joko, 33, (not her real name) spoke about her ordeal.
She said her attackers had left her for dead in the middle of an open field.
“I was in Johannesburg visiting my sister about nine years ago.
“A friend and I had taken a walk to a nearby area and had taken a short cut through the open field.
“We often walked there so we did not expect any danger or harm to come our way,” she said.
“Three men came out of nowhere. We tried to run but they managed to catch me. They beat, stabbed and raped me in that field.
“They left me for dead,” said the mother of one.
Joko managed to pull her battered body onto a highway about 3km away from the scene.
“I don’t know where I got the strength, but I managed to crawl out of the field and got help. I woke up in hospital four days later with a bruised face, a stab wound to my neck and chest, but worst of all, they had infected me with HIV,” she added.
Her perpetrators were never caught and brought to justice.