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

Photogallery Strong Words Start, May End, S. African Xenophobic Attacks

President Jacob Zuma publicly condemned rise in attacks on foreign nationals but critics say leadership has been less than welcoming to foreign residents More

Video Family Waits to Hear Charges Against Reporter Jailed in Iran

Reports in Iran say Jason Rezaian has been charged with espionage, but brother tells VOA indictment has not been made public More

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Action to Stabilize Libya

Amnesty International says multinational concerted humanitarian effort must be enacted to address crisis; decrepit boats continue to bring thousands of new arrivals daily 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.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs