Rape statistics in South Africa are as high as ever. If we bear in mind that less than 1 in every 9 rapes is reported, we can see from official statistics that almost 500 000 people were raped in South Africa in 2015. That is half a million people, which amounts to one percent of our total population.
In 2014, the Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust went door-to-door to speak to people in the Athlone community. More than 50 percent of the people that we interviewed said that rape is a problem in their community.
The next year, in 2015, we did the same survey in Khayelitsha. Here 59 percent of the community members that we spoke to said that rape is a problem in their community. An average of 57 percent of people that we spoke to said that they feel absolutely unsafe in their community. We spoke to hundreds of people in our survey and hundreds of them said that it is a problem. It is real, it happens and it affects us. Our survey gave life to the statistics.
In 2013 a Ministerial Advisory Task Team on the Adjudication of Sexual Offence Matters (MATTSO)released a report,which recommended the re-establishment of Sexual Offences Courts.
Sexual Offences Courts were designed to deliver survivor-centred justice with specialised services, specialised infrastructure and specialised personnel. Sexual Offences Courts are set up in a way that aims to reduce secondary trauma to the survivor, ensure higher conviction rates and a quicker turnaround of cases. Rape Crisis welcomed the Task Team’s recommendation to roll out these courts across South Africa.
We believe that a change to how the criminal justice system operates will bring about better justice for survivors and is key in addressing the problem of rape in South Africa. We welcome the fact that a law putting these specialised courts into effect has been signed by the President but is not yet operational.
Our new advocacy campaign, the Rape Survivors’ Justice Campaign, will advocate for this to change.
YOU can make change by joining us on www.rapecrisis.org.za/courts and by signing our petition calling on government to put the Sexual Offences Courts law into effect by March 2017 so that the courts deliver survivor-centred justice with specialised services, infrastructure and personnel.
Jeanne is an attorney and advocacy coordinator at the Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust. She also coordinates the Rape Survivors’ Justice Campaign and is a lover of pizza and red wine.