Rape and Gender Crimes in the Spotlight at Violence Conference. 16/8/2016

Published by SABC

A study by the global medical charity MSF, or Doctors without Borders,
says one in four women have been raped in the mining town of Rustenburg
in the North West.

The study says this has resulted in extremely high levels of psychological problems among the victims.

This emerged at the First South African National Conference on Violence,
taking place in Boksburg, east of Johannesburg. The conference brings
together researchers and policy makers to look at ways of reducing crime
in the country.

The survey conducted on almost 1000 women has revealed how prevalent sexual violence is in the little mining town.

Dr Amir Shroufi from Doctor's Without Borders says this is a worrying trend, as it has resulted in extremely high levels of
psychological problems in the victims.

He however, could not say whether the problem was linked to the high prevalence of mines in the area.

Shroufi says that this worrying trend is spreading a lot of diseases across the town.

“What we have found is that one in four women in Rustenburg have been raped at some part of time in their life. So, that's an
extremely high level of the problem, and that's a problem for the health
consequences, such as HIV and other infectious diseases that are
caused. It's also a problem for the psychological consequences,
depression and anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress and represents a
lot of suffering and disease across the population.”

Limpopo is another province which has seen large numbers of rape
incidents. Over the last two years in Thohoyandou, 699 cases of rape
were reported.
However, less than 5% of alleged offenders have been prosecuted.

Craig Cargy from Oxford University says this is a very alarming number and serious measures need to be put in place to secure
more convictions:

“3% were prosecuted, and of those 5% ended up going to trial. So, I
think what needs to be carefully addressed is the fact that you can say
statistically 84% of all cases or 90% of all cases are prosecuted, but
those are only the cases that make it to the court and enter the trial
system. So, I think it's really important that we start examining the
entire care system to ensure that survivors and victims of assault and
child abuse are entered into a system that lead to prosecutorial
outcomes.”

It also emerged that more and more young people aged between 15 and 19 are falling victim to crime.

In her presentation, Dr Luanne Swart from UNISA says many adolescents
are killed during street robberies. She says alcohol abuse by young
people plays a leading role.

It has also been highlighted that half of female victims between the ages of 15 and 19 are killed by either their boyfriends or
ex-boyfriends.

Swart says this is a complex problem in Johannesburg, adding that access to weapons needs to be better controlled in order to
reduce the number of incidents:

“Access to weapons and particularly guns, that needs to be better
controlled and also the use of alcohol, there is a very risky pattern of
alcohol abuse amongst adolescent, and the population in general and
that is drinking to intoxicate. And what you find is that many of the
homicide victims that did use alcohol, around 90% of them exceeded the
limit - so that means that they were quite intoxicated... and then also
looking at issues of masculinity, because these occur in situations or
scenes of street parties, bars and those kinds of contexts were drinking
and violence are all seen to be masculine forms of behaviour.”