RAPE! FEMALE CONSCIOUSNESS IN SOUTH AFRICA
WHY MOST WOMEN NEVER REPORT RAPE
By: Mbalenhle Zibani
Forty four percent of rape victims are under 18 and 80% of them under 30, but between 75 – 95 percent of rape crimes are never reported. This is according to rape statistics S.A.
It is estimated that one in four men rape and more than 25% of them admitted in a survey conducted by the Medical Research Council(MEC) that they have raped.
Women are not only faced with the ordeal of rape but with the fear of reporting it. Rape is the most committed crime in South Africa, thus the country has been named by many as the world’s rape capital.
The social stigma cast on women who have been raped is one of many reasons why some rape cases are never reported. Other reasons include the lack of sufficient evidence to prove rape in court, and the attitude that some police give victims of rape when opening a case. Police have infamously been accused before of behaviour such as telling victims that they deserved rape or the victim’s physical appearance tempted men to rape them.
The hardest thing for women is reporting marital rape, as many societies view sex in marriage as a definite right of the husband. Even though forcing sex is criminalized, the norm that a woman should never refuse sex to her husband is believed in many cultures.
The growing number of unreported rape crimes in South Africa might be because most victims are children under the age of five and the fact that the country has the highest incidents of child and baby rape in the world. Because of this, welfare groups believe that unreported cases could be ten times higher than estimated. All this might be because of the escalating myth that having sex with a virgin will cure AIDS.
Medical Research Council conducted a study in 2010 that found 11% of school boys and 4% girls admitted to forcing someone else to have sex with them and some included gang rape. This is evidence of how common rape is in South Africa. Rape and the fight against rape are far from being won.
An anonymous caller on Metro FM said, “I never reported my rape because it was someone in the family and my family felt that it should be forgotten.” She also said that she feels betrayed by her family for protecting her monstrous brother instead of her, the victim.
Women are not trained on how to deal with rape and being a victim comes with a lot of judgement, either from the law or people close to you. Another caller said that she never knew that “it was rape.”
“I only recently realise that it was rape but it was 15 years ago. I can not do anything about it now.” Most rape incidents are initiated by people that are trusted or known to victims. This has led to all men being dragged through the mud of rape.
Women who have been raped often admit that they have no trust for men. “I never feel comfortable even if my husband plays with his own daughter, I become over protective”. “This has caused problems for my marriage,” said an anonymous caller also on Metro FM She also said that people who rape women take away a lot from them because no matter what you do “you’ll always be a victim”.
The fact still remains that the fight against rape is not over. Acquitted rapists are the cause of many women standing back and not reporting sexual crimes and the high rates of child and baby abuse.