Editorials 13.12.2017 06:29 am

SA engulfed by sexual violence

Judge said the injuries on the kids did not fall out of the air. Picture: Germiston City News.

Judge said the injuries on the kids did not fall out of the air. Picture: Germiston City News.

The danger then is that even at times of heightened public awareness, as in the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children just ended, we become desensitised and switch off.

Sometimes it seems that the level of violence – and especially sexual violence, or violence against women and children – is overwhelming.

The danger then is that even at times of heightened public awareness, as in the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children just ended, we become desensitised and switch off.

But we must pay attention to a report from Doctors Without Borders about research carried out into sexual violence in the Rustenburg district of North West.

It must be noted that the survey was conducted among just 800 women, aged between 18 and 49, and only from one area of our country.

Yet, the results can be reliably extrapolated across that area … and also give us an idea of the prevalence of this type of violence.

In Rustenburg, based on the survey findings, at least 11 000 women and girls are raped every year, with 49% being subjected to some form of sexual violence during their lifetime.

There are some more horrifying statistics in the report: one in five sexually transmitted diseases are due to rape and as few as one in 25 sexual violence victims actually report the crime to police.

Because of this, few of those who survive attacks get the necessary medical and psychological support.

That is a snapshot of one area, but it shows that we are engulfed by an epidemic of sexual violence.

And apart from the obvious need to change the attitude of men – who are by far the majority of perpetrators – we need to ensure that police officers, medical personnel and social workers are trained to offer sympathetic support.

If a woman cannot get professional, caring, help in the wake of sexual violence, she is, effectively, being violated a second time.

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