A country of 49 milion people, South Africa every year reports around 18,000 murders and 60,000 rapes.
In England and Wales, with 53 million people, there are around 600 murders and 12,000 rapes a year.
Age is no barrier to the crime: a seven-year-old girl was repeatedly raped in school toilets by three boys aged nine, 11 and 11. An 11-year-old girl was allegedly raped several times by a 48-year-old caretaker at her primary school. A statutory rape incident involving a 15-year-old girl and two boys, filmed and distributed by classmates on mobile phones, has provoked renewed soul searching.
The Sonke Gender Justice Network, a campaign group, attempts to tackle the crisis at root by working with men and boys. Bafana Khumalo, its international programmes manager, says: “We certainly have a major problem in South Africa. There is a culture permissive of sexual violence. In a society where people can get away with it with impunity, they are encouraged to feel there is nothing wrong with it.
The criminal justice system is seen by many as ill-equipped to meet women’s needs. Khumalo says: “Sometimes a raped woman who goes to the police is not believed . . . Sometimes they are raped by the police.”
But the country’s leaders have been accused of failing to practise what they preach. President Jacob Zuma, a traditional Zulu, has three wives and at least 21 children. He was cleared of rape in a trial, where he admitted sleeping with a family friend he knew to be HIV-positive. The Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini, who has five wives, hosts an annual reed dance in which 25,000 bare-breasted women perform, after undergoing virginity tests.
We need to put pressure on South Africa. One way is to phone, email or write to the South Africa Tourism, and tell them that you don’t feel that it is safe for a woman to travel and visit South Africa. Hit them in the pocket book.
Why isn’t Rape -aXe the female condom that attacks the penis of a rapitst not available? It was ready to go on the market in 2005 and still is not available. It can only be removed surgically which informs hospital and police of the rapist’s identification. If households can use weapons to protect property, why can’t a woman use the weapon of Rape-aXe to protect her body? T