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

FIFA Indictments Put Gold Cup Tournament Under Cloud

Experts say US indictments could lead to charges of other world soccer officials, and lead to major shakeup in sport's governance More

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

At a recent even in Seoul, border communities promoted benefits of increased cooperation and North Korean defectors shared stories of life since the war More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win 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.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs