More than 300,000 adult women reported being raped or sexually assaulted in South Africa over the past decade although the actual number is much much higher.
This shocking rape finding comes from the latest South Africa Survey report published by the Institute of Race Ralations (IRR) last week.
“According to police records, 315,561 women reported being raped or sexually assaulted over the past decade. The data is certainly an undercount as many women are too afraid to report rapes,” says IRR head of media, Mienke Steytler. “Unfortunately, there is no reliable data on rape reporting rates although a series of dated and localised studies have suggested that reporting rates may be lower than 20%. If reporting rates are indeed that low it is quite possible that more than 1 million adult women have been raped or sexually assaulted over the past decade.”
Steytler added, “While a lot of media attention is rightly focused on women as victims of sexual violence police data shows that over 20 254 children were reported to have been victims of rape and sexual assault in 2015/16.”
The IRR feels that there is a lot of talking and politicking around South Africa’s rape and sexual violence scourge. While reported sexual offence numbers have dropped slightly over the past decade that may be a function of under-reporting.
What is completely certain is that the police are not making sufficient inroads towards winning this battle. By sharing these numbers with journalists and the broader public the IRR hopes that lawmakers and political leaders will take sexual violence seriously and do something about it.