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How to deal with rape and sexual offences

By: Poelano Malema

Gender-Based violence is a big issue in South Africa, and the world at large.

Sexual offences saw an increase of 6.0% with 2,517 rape cases being recorded in the third quarter of 2020 in Gauteng. This was revealed in the 2020/21 crime statistics released by the Gauteng police ministry.

It is important that if you have been sexually violated, you report the case to the police and don’t protect the perpetrator.

Reporting rape or sexual offences 

Below is a guideline from the South African Police Services on what happens when you report a rape.

– The police official will take your statement which can be written in your own language and if your statement is wrong or incomplete, you can make another one. You need not be alone – a friend or family member can be with you while you make your statement, as long as he or she is not a potential witness in your case. You have the right to copy your statement.

– The police official will give you a case number and you must use this number whenever you want information about your case.

– If necessary, the investigating officer will make sure you are examined by an accredited healthcare worker, who will complete a medical report and collect medical evidence.

– You must make sure that the investigating officer knows how and where to contact you at all times, including when you move to another location, but it is a victim’s responsibility to notify the police official of any changes in address.

How to protect yourself from becoming a victim 

If you get raped or experience a sexual offence, do not blame yourself, because it is not always possible to protect yourself and it is never your fault that you were raped.

According to the 2020/21 statistics by the Gauteng police ministry, 527 of the rape incidents occurred at the home of either the victim or the perpetrator.

Family members, even close ones, can be perpetrators of sexual crimes, so it is not always possible to protect yourself.

Below is a guideline from the South African Police Service on tips to help you protect yourself when at home, outdoors or on a date.

How to protect yourself when outdoors:

Your vulnerability increases when you are:

• in dark and deserted places at night;

• if you look vulnerable (e.g. walking alone in desolate areas);

• if you appear uncertain, for example if you do not know

• where you are going;

• if you do not lock your car doors and close your windows;

• if you talk to strangers;

• if you stop for stranded vehicles or people; or

• if your vehicle is faulty and you have to stop for help.

What to do:

• Be aware of your surroundings.

• Be alert at traffic lights and stop streets.

• Walk close to the curb and face the on-coming traffic.

• Try and keep to well-lit areas or where there are people.

• Do not hitch-hike.

• Do not pick up hitch-hikers.

• Keep a whistle with you – and blow it if you need help.

How to protect yourself when at home:

• Do not allow a stranger into your home – even if he is delivering something or providing a service.

• Ask for an identity document or phone his/her office to check his/her identity.

• Invest in the best locks and security you can afford.

• Never tell anyone that you are alone at home – and make sure the children also know not do so.

• Know your neighbours – and together plan ahead for how you will respond in a crisis.

• Know your local police station – and discuss safety matters with the police.

• Become involved with local crime prevention efforts with the community police forum or police.

How to protect yourself when on a date:

• Do not allow anyone to touch you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable

• Be firm and clear and say NO!

• Do not leave a party or social event with someone you do not know or have just met – say NO!

• Ask friends for help if someone ignores you when you say NO!

• Remember: most rape victims know the rapist.

• You have the right to say NO!

SAPS has also shared a guideline on how to deal with rape, in case you are sexually violated.

In case of rape:

• Try not to panic.

• Common sense is your best defence.

• You can not always defend yourself and your resistance may cause serious injury.

• If the attacker is dangerous, cooperate and try to negotiate.

• Submission is not consent.

• Try and remember what the attacker looks like – his age, race,height, hair colour, scars, tattoos, clothes, voice, jewellery.

• Scream, yell, blow your whistle or run away if you possibly can.

• Do not bath or change your clothes after an attack

• keep all the evidence so that it can be used by the police for further investigation.

• Report the crime to the Police Service straight away: go to the police station or phone 10111.

There are many organisations that can help you deal with being a victim of sexual crime: 

 

– People Opposed to Woman Abuse (Powa)

– Childline South Africa

– Child Welfare South Africa

Families South Africa (Famsa)

– Tears Foundation

– The Trauma Centre

– Thuthuzela Care Centres

 

 

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