Sexual offences not a true reflection of rape reality

By Safiyia Stanfley, MPL, Democratic Alliance Women’s Network Provincial Chairperson:

The drop in the sexual offences in the province is not significant to the reality of many women who fall victim to rape.

Many women do not report rape because they fear second-hand victimization at the hands of police officials.

 

Some of the rape incidents are not reported because of fear and a lack of faith in the policing and the judicial systems.

Rape victims also fear being disbelieved by members of the police service and fear of knowing the offender and feeling ashamed.

In the Northern Cape a total of 1 587 sexual offences were reported, but many such crimes have gone unreported. These figures do indicate the reality on the ground.

DAWN is greatly concerned because rape statistics are not reported separately by the police, but fall under the sexual offences category, which includes rape and sexual assault (of men, women and children).

The assumption that all sexual offences were rapes is false and misleading, what compounds the matter even further is that the police subliminally assume that all the victims are women.

These statistics do not reflect the reality of rape in the province.

The lack of proper victim support and empowerment units at various police stations in the province is also a cause for great concern.

It is estimated that over 40% of South African women will be raped in their lifetime and that only 1 in 9 rapes are reported. It is also estimated that only 14% of perpetrators of rape are convicted in South Africa.

Many rape victims will not report the matter to the police because of fear to be judged and to be embarrassed with revealing the details of the ordeal.

Victims get judged that they wanted it because they were drunk or how they dressed.

When a woman wears a short skirt or a revealing top does not always mean that she is sending out a signal that she is available for sex. A woman always has the right to choose if, when and with whom she has sex.

It is a fable that it’s not rape if a woman wears revealing clothing, because then she wants sex, the truth is that both men and women sometimes get drunk – it is not a crime to drink but it is a crime to rape. Sex without consent is always rape, no matter what the circumstances.

DAWN in the Northern Cape believes its time that – 1) rape cases of women be reportedly separately, 2) special training be given to police officers to enable them to come up with a conclusive case that leads to the conviction of an offender and 3) victim support units occupied by trained counselors in private space be made available to all police stations.