A 2017 report titled Rape Justice in South Africa, by the Medical Research Council on behalf of the National Prosecuting Authority, revealed that only 8% of reported rapes result in conviction while the 2016/17 Crime Statistics published by the South African Police Service showed 49 960 reported sexual offences.
Yet, according to the Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust, as few as one in nine survivors of sexual offences actually report crimes to officials due to reporting barriers including a lack of faith in the criminal justice system. That puts the estimated number of sexual offences closer to 450 000.
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“We believe that the answer to this problem is for our government to establish more specialised sexual offences courts. These courts support rape survivors and have been proven to increase conviction rates as well as decreasing the time it takes to finalise cases. By increasing the number of specialised courts in South Africa, currently reported at 75 across the country, with the first one established in the early 1990s, we believe more survivors of sexual offences will be supported and have access to justice. Our research shows there is a distinct lack of information and support for survivors when entering the criminal justice system,” says Kathleen Dey from the Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust.
To help Rape Crisis Cape Town, 1st For Women Foundation is donating R950 000 to contribute to the organisation's advocacy work through the Rape Survivors’ Justice Campaign. This campaign focuses on specialised sexual offences courts as well as the criteria for defining the courts and the laws which govern and regulate the establishment and functioning of these courts.
The aim is to ensure higher conviction rates of perpetrators and to reduce the rates of secondary trauma experienced by survivors. The Rape Survivors’ Justice Campaign holds government accountable for its promise to roll out ten new sexual offences courts per year over the next three years, across South Africa.
As the abuse of women is such a multifaceted problem, and the ways to address it must be done holistically, 1st for Women also launched an online platform in 2017 called For-Women.co.za, with the objective to unite all South Africans under one voice in the fight against women abuse. For-Women.co.za provides a database of NPOs to women affected by abuse. It allows South Africans and corporates to connect with specific NPOs to offer help and support.
“With one in four women being abused on a daily basis in South Africa, the conversation must be top of mind and should be raised at every opportunity. We have to tackle this problem together and through strength in numbers we can make a lasting difference,” says Casey Rousseau, Marketing Manager, 1st for Women Insurance.
For more information about the Rape Survivor’s Justice Campaign or to learn more about rape and what to do in situations of sexual assault, then visit Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust’s website.
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