News / Africa

South Africa Leads World in Rape Cases

Anita Powell
South Africa is often called the “rape capital of the world,” and it is estimated that more than 70 percent of women have experienced sexual abuse. On Tuesday, five men attacked and gang-raped a young woman in the capital, Pretoria. In the shadow of a similar attack in India that mobilized millions to protest, activists in Johannesburg say they do not understand why more South Africans are not outraged.

Police say the young woman was waiting overnight Tuesday in line to register at the Tshwane University of Technology.

Five men dragged her into the bushes, raped her and stole her phone and money.  Police say no suspect has been been arrested.

When a young student in New Delhi was gang-raped by six men, beaten and left to die last month, the horrific act sparked mass protests across India.

The victim’s father recently announced her name to the world. Her name was Jyoti, a Hindu name that means “light.”

And fittingly, her plight has focused the world’s attention on India’s rape epidemic. Five of the six suspects have appeared before a New Delhi court and charged with abduction, gang rape and murder. The case’s swiftness is unheard of in a nation where it normally takes months for prosecutors to prepare.  

But in South Africa, says activist Zubeda Dangor, it is likely that this one student’s horrific ordeal will simply fade from public view.
 
Dangor, who is of Indian ancestry, is the executive director of the Nisaa Institute for Women’s Development. The name of the non-religious organization references a chapter of the Koran that speaks of women’s rights.

“Why is South African society complacent about something like this?" she asks. "And, the lesson that we do take from the Indian experience is that we do need to be able to stand up. We are people that have a struggle history, that have organized. But we organized in terms of liberation of South Africa, but we can’t seem to get our act together in terms of organizing against sexual violence.”

South African police documented more than 64,000 rapes last year. And, that figure includes only reported rapes.  Sexual assault is one of the most underreported crimes worldwide.

A widely cited 2010 study  by the Medical Research Council found that more than a quarter of South African men have admitted to raping a girl or woman. One in seven men admitted to gang rape.

Dangor says no woman is safe. Rape victims include babies, girls and old women.

South Africa also struggles with unacceptably high levels of abuse.  According to government figures, 90 percent of women have experienced emotional and physical abuse and 71 percent have experienced sexual abuse.

Dangor’s organization helped gather thousands of signatures for a petition to the Indian government, delivered Tuesday. The petition asks the Indian government to act against rape and protect rape victims.  Dangor says the Indian experience offers hope for his native South Africa.

“I think that the lesson that we, as South Africans, can take out of this, is that one admires Indian society for standing up, particularly at this point in time, so that women survivors of rape or abuse can get assisted," she says. "We know that the Indian police are also very slow to act and that is a similar situation in South Africa. We have wonderful laws, but our laws are not implemented sufficiently for women to receive social justice.

A South African police spokeswoman refused to comment for this story, but police have said they are committed to fighting sexual assault.

But, until they succeed, it is likely that tomorrow, some 175 South African girls and women will be raped.

And another 175 the next. day - and so on.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: tshepo from: johannesburg
January 15, 2013 6:09 AM
But nothing backs up the headline in this entire story. Is there a study or figures that you are relying on to say SA leads the world in rape cases?...who's 2nd?

by: prowyt from: Rome, Italy
January 11, 2013 2:39 AM
Culprit: evolution

Scientist's Study Of Brain Genes Sparks a Backlash
http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB115040765329081636-T5DQ4jvnwqOdVvsP_XSVG_lvgik_20060628.html

by: leo from: belgrade
January 10, 2013 6:54 PM
I guess you'll never hear that hypocrite Bono talking about this in his concerts, something like, When I snip my fingers... etc., because rape puts the blame on Africans themselves, while poverty, supposedly, puts blame on White Westerners...

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs