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South Africa has one of the highest incidences of rape in the world. Twelve times more women are raped and then murdered in South Africa every year than in the United States. Gang rape is also common, with some victims raped by up to 30 perpetrators at a time.

Added to the high incidence of rape is the extreme violence which often accompanies the attack. This level of violence has been likened to what happens during armed conflict, when civilians are subjected to degradation, ritual humiliation, injuries such as mutilation, and death.

Factors such as poverty and drug abuse on their own are not enough to explain these shocking statistics. South Africa’s ‘culture of violence’ stems from the dehumanising apartheid system and the liberation struggle, where conflict was resolved through force and men were imprisoned, forced in exile or conscription.

Compounding the problem is the high incidence of HIV (about 10% of the population is estimated to be HIV+), an increase in child rape, the ‘corrective’ rape of lesbian women and inadequacies in the legal system.

We believe that improving laws and support services will lead to more convictions of perpetrators, helping to combat the culture of violence and impunity that continues to erode the fabric of our society.

Please support our efforts to make South Africa a safer place for women and children, by making a contribution towards our services and programmes. If your donation helps just one rape survivor find healing and justice, it will be worth it.

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What is rape?

Rape is a crime that is committed through a sexual act without the consent or agreement between the people involved. Rape is traumatic, humiliating and can have life changing consequences. Rape is never the victim’s fault. Rapists make the choice to rape and they are to blame.

You can be raped by a stranger or by someone you know or are going out with (date rape). A woman can also be raped by her husband. If you are raped by two or more people at the same time, it is called gang rape. Statutory rape is when someone age 18 or older has sex with someone under the age of consent (16 years) whether or not she gave consent.


Myths are widely held beliefs that are in fact not true. Myths about rape are particularly harmful because they lead us to blame women.

Instead of holding the rapist responsible, we think she was ‘asking to be raped’ or we wonder if she is telling the truth. If  rape survivors believe these myths themselves, they may feel too ashamed or guilty to report the rape, even though they have done nothing wrong. This prevents many rapists from being prosecuted.

It is vital that all of us reject these myths, so that survivors may fully recover and more rapists are convicted.


Feminism & Violence against women

Rape in the Media

Principles of Empowerment

27 people will be sexually assaulted in the Western Cape today
– and every other day of the year

Facts about rape