The Rape Survivors Justice Campaign (RSJC) and its coalition partners intend to hold government accountable for the promised roll out of specialised sexual offences courts. These courts are specialised in offering the right kind of support to rape survivors when they need it most, and it is this factor that we believe is key to […]
As discussed in our previous article, attrition of rape cases in South Africa is a matter of serious concern. The RAPSSA Report found that there were many different factors influencing the attrition of rape cases as they move through the criminal justice system. Some of these were due to the inefficiency and inconsistency of investigating […]
Crime is a systemic problem in South Africa and every year a huge number of cases are reported to the police. In 2017, for example, there were 49 660 sexual offences cases reported to the police in South Africa. But in how many of these cases does the offender actually go to jail? You would […]
In our previous blog The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) we described how UN Member States, civil society organisations and UN entities gather at UN headquarters in New York to discuss matters of importance for the rights of women across the world.
South Africa being a member state is represented by Minister in the Presidency responsible for Women, Bathabile Dlamini who leads a government and civil society delegation that includes Minister of Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu. The delegation will present South Africa’s report on the status of social protection system, access to public service, sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in South Africa. Minister Zulu will also participate in some of the ministerial roundtables, high level interactive dialogue and interactive expert panels.
Rape is a violent crime in which a person uses sexual acts to intentionally harm and hurt another. We cannot talk about rape in polite terms or hide the truth about it. Rape is an abuse of power and an abuse of sex.
It is important for rape survivors to understand the exact meaning of the laws on rape for two reasons:
- Firstly, a rape survivor needs enough information about the law to know whether her case has a chance of succeeding or not.
- Secondly, the survivor needs to know exactly what is expected of them to prove that the rapist is guilty in the eyes of the law.
The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act (Act 32 of 2007) has been in effect in South Africa since 16 December 2007. This law states that it is a crime to intentionally commit a sexual act against another person without that person’s consent.
Rape and violence against women is endemic in South Africa, but it is a thorny subject matter. How do we bring this discussion to the foreground in South Africa, what are the words we use, and where do we start?
Words matter. They matter because they are carriers not only of information, but carriers of feelings. When they land, words have the power to heal, revive, restore and educate but they also have an enormous power to debilitate and to trigger. But words are our thoughts, and without them we cannot speak, so how do we use them when we speak about rape? A violent scourge plaguing South Africa, encompassing noun, is not the heart of the very word [rape], triggering in itself?
Our campaign advocates for the national rollout of sexual offences courts to such an extent that all rape survivors will eventually have access to a specialised court. We believe that these courts should first be established in areas with high rates of reported sexual offences, which is one of the issues that we advocate for in the regulations and our engagement with the Department of Justice.
In South Africa less than 1% of sexual offences result in justice for the victims of these crimes. The estimated number of sexual offences in South Africa is 645 580 each year and only one in 13 of these sexual offences are reported to the police. In other words, only 7,7% of sexual offences that take place are reported to police while 92,3% are unreported.
As the three researchers, Lisa Vetten, Dr Aisling Heath, and Karen Hollely, shared some key findings from their work and presented their opinions to the people that attended, there was a very clear golden thread tying together their findings: people. When victims of sexual offences were interviewed during research conducted by the Child Witness Institute, it was clear that people’s experience of the criminal justice system and sexual offences court depends on the people that work in the court and how supportive they are. This was the same for when magistrates and prosecutors were interviewed about working in sexual offences courts – justice is dispensed by people and who those people are, matter greatly.
Many people think it doesn’t matter to them, and that the National Prosecuting Authority is a matter for politicians and journalists. Well, let’s take a look at gender-based violence; more specifically sexual offences. That’s an issue that you will know about, and in fact determines some of what you do. Those streets you don’t walk at night, those lectures you give your kids about people spiking their drinks? It’s because you don’t feel safe. One reason you may not feel safe is because rapists are not convicted in significant enough numbers. But how bad are those numbers really?
Sean will tell you all is well. His NPA has a conviction rate of 72,8% on sexual offences. Sounds good, right? You can sleep better at night, knowing that?