- Does South Africa suffer from the highest rape statistics worldwide or is sexual violence actually on the decline?
- Two contradicting narratives currently oppose each other on the sensitive subject
- Briefly.co.za has a look at the facts behind the two arguments in an attempt to find the answers
On the one hand, we have President Cyril Ramaphosa painting a picture of a nation at war with the women who call it home, suffering from the highest rape numbers on Earth.
On the other hand, we have statistics put forward by the police, claiming that sexual violence is slowly being reigned in.
Briefly.co.za has a look at the reality behind these claims to determine what the actual situation is:
So what is really the situation?
Africa Check claims that both these claims are stuck in the political past. President Cyril Ramaphosa's claim can be traced all the way back to 1977, when an MP estimated that only 5% of rapes were actually reported.
In later years, the media reports claimed that SA has the highest rate of rape in the world, dubbing it a 'new form of terrorism'.
Newer data shows that reports of rape have increased drastically but with only 7% of those who took part in studies revealing that they had been forced to have sex against their will. 15% confirmed that they had reported the incident to the police.
A later study, carried out by Statistics South Africa, calculated that 55 000 women had been raped in 1997, with the SAPS estimating that 212 per 100 000 women had fallen victim to the epidemic during the same time frame.
Police statistics for the period following this are shadowed with controversy, with claims that figures were fixed in order to reflect lower numbers and a reduction in crime.
Later years saw the introduction of the 'sexual assault' definition, referring to unwanted contact without actual penetration.
These changes would, theoretically, have led to an increase in people reporting sexual offences, but this newer materialised.
Overall, it seems as if the way we look at rape statistics needs to change in order to truly determine whether or not an actual decline in the crime has taken place, or if the police have simply altered the way the data had been collected.
Until we know whether or not a war against woman is still being fought, we cannot hope to begin to fix the problem at hand.
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