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

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid