The cost of Rape


This weekend the Springboks play wales – Just the money spent on one rugby international test would be sufficient to financially support a rape crisis centre for one year.

What we forget, is that the true cost of rape is even greater than any money we can imagine – it destroys the fabric of our society and if we fail to act now, the cost we will bear will be disastrous – because the lives of our women, children and vulnerable people in South Africa will forever be changed – for the worst.

Speak out against Rape and Act now.

According to Google a woman is raped in South Africa every 4 minutes. Another Google article says that only 1 in 9 women report rape – but that’s Google! Who are we to trust Google when it comes to the issue of rape in South Africa? Stats SA says that a truer reflection (1998) is that only 1 in 2 rape victims will report their Rape to the Police…

So who do we believe?

Here are some credible stats that will really shock you!

According to a study conducted The South African Medical Research Council and Gender links, only 1 in 25 women will report a rape to the police: not 1 in 9 , but one in twenty five rapes. That means that for every 4 rapes reported to the police, 100 rapes have taken place. Here are some more statistics, Statistics from the Eastern Cape: According to SAPS over a 7 year period, 2001 – 2007 there were 20 641 rapes reported in the Eastern Cape Province. For this period the average ratio per 100 000 people was 49.3. Now you may think, what is so significant about this statistic or ratio?

One centre ( Sinawa Centre) , saw such an increase of rape victims coming to them for help and counselling, that their stats increased to 417 per 100 000. That is 10 times higher than reported rape! So maybe 1 in 9 or 1 in 25 reported rape is a more accurate reflection of what is really happening on the ground.

And even these statistics may not be an accurate indicator of the true problem we face in South Africa and in the Eastern Cape! By the researchers own admission, rape is difficult to research, because victims of rape don’t want to talk about their ordeal. Many rape victims don t report to the police because they don’t speak about their rape. FULL STOP.

They don’t speak about the rape to their husbands or boyfriends, their BFF ( Best Friend).They don’t tell their parents or their families about the rape. Is it because their families, their husbands, or the police don’t care? Or.. Society for that matter? No – it is because the victim is feeling scared, guilty, ashamed, hurt, dirty and YES, most importantly because of the stigma attached to rape that the victims doesn’t feel safe enough to come out into the open and speak about their rape.

Yes – they don’t trust Society enough.

Yes, they don’t trust the police enough to listen sensitively and with compassion –

The survivor of Rape doesn’t feel like the victim – they feel like they are to blame!

And if its anybody’s fault, its not the VICTIMS FAULT – its society’s fault! If RAPE VICTIMS don’t feel safe enough to come out and speak out about their rape in our communities – it’s OUR FAULT! Society must take responsibility for whether rape survivors feel safe enough to come out and speak about their ordeal – because of the stigma attached to rape.

The stigma attached to rape is placed there by society. Because we don’t want to speak about rape. Rape is an unspeakable horror and so society creates this veil of secrecy that surrounds sexual violence and abuse and violence against women and children. It is human nature to keep quiet about unspeakable horrors. Trauma has a peculiar tendency to make people forget. In Psychology, we call this amnesia. In society, we call this denial.

This denial tells the victim of rape that your UNSPEAKABLE HORROR never happened. It tells the rape victim, don’t talk, we can’t listen because it’s too painful to hear what you have gone through. And when we tell the victim to not speak, to keep quiet, we take sides with the rapist, the abuser… The perpetrator wants silence. The perpetrator wants society to keep quiet about the abuse and violence perpetrated because by denying the unspeakable horror – Silence means that the rape never happened, if the rape never happened the perpetrator cannot be blamed. And if silence doesn’t work for the perpetrator, then blame does.

The perpetrator attacks the character of the victim…How many times have we heard how victims are blamed for the clothes they wear, or how much alcohol they had.What is that saying? The victim is not a credible witness. And so when the victim makes a decision about whether or not to report their rape, they look at history and what has happened in the past, and they make their decision based on that. But its not all societies fault.

Rape is such a sensitive intimate subject because it deals with intimate, private parts of both the physical body and a woman’s internal emotional process. Think about it – most women don’t often discuss their own fantasies related to sex, their feelings and responses to physical touch on an intimate level with strangers, how much more difficult would it be for them to discuss such intimate parts of their lives when violated? And so, a rape survivor faces an uphill challenge both from society and from herself.

The way she sees the world has changed. She no longer feels safe. The way she sees herself has been changed – dramatically. She feels unsafe, uncertain and perhaps even unclean. And in this uncertainty, she must make a choice. She asks “Do I speak out and confront the attacker who even now continues to attack me in my dreams, in my sleep in my emotions and my thoughts…or do I forget. Deny. And try move on?” She may even ask herself, how can I find the courage to face my attacker and his gang of prosecutors and persecutors who will do anything to discredit me in court when I didn’t have the courage to fight him off when he raped me? How do I face a police officer and tell him what happened, when all I want to do is forget? How do I enter a doctors examination room willing to expose myself and feel as if whilst he is examining me, it is happening all over again? Being touched when I don’t want to be touched.

The problem of Rape has no easy solution. Rape has become a harsh and stark reality in South Africa, with one rape occurring every 23 seconds. Rape has become such an accepted everyday occurrence, that the rape of a child will not so much as raise a whimper of protest from the South African public, yet South Africans will mourn for months at the loss of a rugby game. Rape, to some men has become just that- a Game. RAPE is not a game, RAPE HURTS…and continues to hurt long after the committed crime, the degradation and shame continue.

According to Jane Raphael:

“Rape violates women in the innermost of their souls,

it is a pain that will stay with them forever.”

But there is a solution: Change begins with Society.

It begins with society fighting the belief that RAPE, to many a dirty word, is something that should not be spoken about. Society needs to collectively speak about and against RAPE. The solution begins with society asking the rape victim what they need. Offering them a safe haven to come forward and tell their story. It begins with us listening to the cry for help from the victim of rape.The centre I mentioned earlier, Sizanawa centre in Mthatha had an increase in rape survivors coming to them for help because they created an environment of safety and trust. The victims felt safe going to them for help. They were listened to. And because they were heard, they found healing.

Judith Herman, Associate Professor in Psychiatry at Harvard medical school and the author of Trauma and Recovery says that when survivors are able to speak out and tell the truth about what happened, they can begin their recovery. So if we truly want to battle the scourge of rape in our communities, we need to speak out and create an environment that is safe enough for rape survivors to be willing enough to come out.

So how do we do that?

Firstly, we research the issues surrounding responses to rape.

For example:

· Why are rapes not reported,

· How long do police respond to cases and what challenges do the police face in investigating these crimes

· What is the quality of forensic examination reports submitted to court

· How long do DNA results take to be released to court

· What is the demographic of both rape survivors and the perpetrators of rape

· Interview Rape Survivors and determine what challenges they have faced in reporting their rape

· Determine how may forensic Social workers are available for therapeutic and forensic investigations.

And with the research results, campaign for change in the way Rape cases are managed within justice, policing and civil society environments. By identifying the challenges faced by rape victims, solutions can be identified and implemented – and such solutions will be effective because they are research based.


Advocate for change in the manner in which sexual offences are reported by the police when statistics are submitted. At present, due to the sexual offences act 2007 incidents such as pornography and sex work infringements are included in police reports which masks the true statistic of rape.


Develop and establish centre’s of hope whereby Rape Survivors can come to for help whether it be for legal assistance, counselling, support, therapy or even to undergo the sexual assault forensic examination in an environment that is safe, trustworthy and conducive to healing – surrounded by people, who may be survivors themselves but who are passionate about providing support to rape survivors.

Finally, and most importantly – Determine the cost of rape.

The study undergone at Sinawe Centre by the medical research council identified that the average cost per conviction was between R5000 and R10 000 per case. Invest more and we will see a higher conviction rate.Great financial Investment is needed in the field of support for rape survivors – remember the earlier comment about rape not being a game?

Well just think on this: the difference between investment in the sporting arena and the social services arena is vast.

This weekend the Springboks play wales – Just the money spent on one rugby international test would be sufficient to financially support a rape crisis centre for one year.

What we forget, is that the true cost of rape is even greater than any money we can imagine – it destroys the fabric of our society and if we fail to act now, the cost we will bear will be disastrous – because the lives of our women, children and vulnerable people in South Africa will forever be changed – for the worst.

Speak out against Rape and Act now.

Would you consider supporting the iThemba Rape & Trauma Support Centre on a monthly basis?

if so, please contact me – or via cell – 063 0471073 for further details.

Philip Stoneman


Right of Victims

-compiled by Michelle Bellion ( 2010)

(source Department of Justice Handbook for Victims of crime)

To provide for the consolidation of the present legal framework in South Africa relating to the rights of and services provided to victims of crime and to:

  • Eliminate secondary victimisation in the criminal justice process;
  • Ensure that victims remain central to the criminal justice process;
  • Clarify the service standards that can be expected by and are to be according to victims whenever they come into contact with the criminal justice system; and Make provision for victims’ recourse when standards are not met.


If you have been a victim of crime the following rights, as contained in the Constitution and relevant legislation, will be upheld in your contract with the criminal justice system:

1. The right to be treated with fairness and with respect for dignity and privacy:

o You have the right to be attended to promptly and courteously, treated with respect for your dignity and privacy by all members of any department, institution, agency or organization dealing with or providing a service to you (hereinafter referred to as a service provider).

o The police, during investigations, the prosecutors and court officials during preparation for and during the trial proceedings; as well as all other service providers, will take measures to minimize any inconvenience to you by, among others, conducting interviews with you in your language of choice and in private, if necessary.

o These measures will prevent you from being subjected to secondary victimization.

2. The right to offer information

o You have the right to offer information during the criminal investigation and trial.

o The police, prosecutor and correctional services official will take measures to ensure that any contribution that you wish to make to the investigation, prosecution and parole hearing is heard and considered when deciding on whether to proceed with the investigation, or in the course of the prosecution of Parole Board hearing.

o It means that you will have the opportunity to make a further statement to the police if you realise that your first statement is incomplete, you may also, where appropriate, make a statement to the court or give evidence during the sentencing proceeding to bring the impact of the crime to the court’s attention.

o Furthermore, you may make a written statement application to the Chairperson of the Parole Board to attend to the parole hearing and submit written input.

3. The right to receive information

o You have the right to be informed of your rights and of how to exercise them.

o You can, as part of this right, ask for explanations in your own language of anything you do not understand.

o You have the right to receive information and to be informed of all relevant services available to you by the service providers.

o You will be informed of your role in the case and of the approximate duration of the case. You can request information regarding court dates, witness fees and the witness protection programme.

o You can request to be informed of the status of the case, whether or not the offender has been arrested, charged, granted bail, indicted, convicted, or sentenced.

o You may request reasons for a decision that has been taken in your case on whether to prosecute of not.

o You are entitled to receive documents that the law entitles you to have access to.

o You can request to receive notification of proceedings which you may attend.

o You can request the prosecutor to notify you employer of any proceedings which necessitate your absence from work.

4. The right to protection:

o You have the right to be free from intimidation, harassment, fear, tampering, bribery, corruption and abuse. If you are a witness, you must report any such threats to the police or senior state prosecutor.

o The police will, if you comply with certain requirements, apply for you to be placed in a witness protection programme.

o If such an application is successful, you will be placed in a witness protection programme where you will be protected, as far as possible, from all forms of undue influence, harassment or intimidation.

o This will ensure your safety as a witness and the availability of your testimony, and prevent you from withdrawing from giving evidence as a result of undue influence.

o This right includes that in certain circumstances the court may prohibit the publication of any information (including your identity), or it may order that the trial be held behind closed doors (in camera).

o You can request Correctional Services to inform you if the offender has escaped or has been transferred.

5. The right to assistance:

o You have the right to request assistance and, where relevant have access to available social, health and counselling service, as well as legal assistance which is responsive to your needs.

o The police will assist you by explaining police procedures, informing you of your rights and making the appropriate referral to other relevant services providers.

o The office manager or head of department at the court will provide for the services of an interpreter.

o The prosecutor will ensure that special measures are employed in relation to sexual offences, domestic violence and child support or maintenance matters and that, where available, such cases are heard in specialised courts.

o If you have special needs, all service providers will, within the scope of their functions, take all reasonable steps to accommodate you and ensure you are treated in a sensitive manner.

6. The right to compensation (receiving finances):

o You have the right to compensation for loss of or damage to property suffered as a result of a crime being committed against you.

o You can request to be present at court on the date of sentencing of the accused and request the prosecutor to apply to court for a compensation order in terms of section 297 and 300 of the Criminal Procedure Act, Act 51 of 1977.

o “Compensation” refers to an amount of money that a criminal court awards the victim who has suffered loss or damage to property, including money, as a result of a criminal act or omission by the person convicted committing the crime.

o The prosecutor will inform you if a compensation order has been granted, explain its contents and how to enforce it. You can institute a civil action against the accused where the criminal court did not grant a compensation order. This will usually happen where the damages are not easily quantifiable in financial terms, for example, in the case of psychological damages or pain and suffering.

7. The right to restitution (to replace or restore):

o You have the right to restitution in cases where you have been unlawfully disposed of goods and property, or where your goods or property have been damaged unlawfully.

o “Restitution” refers to cases where the court, after conviction, orders the accused to give back to you the property or goods that have been taken from you unlawfully, or to repair the property or goods that have been unlawfully damaged, in order to restore the position you were in prior to the commission of the offence.

o The prosecutor will inform you what restitution involves and the clerk of the court will assist you in enforcing this right.


Keeping in mind that you have the right to complain, you can contact the particular government department or service provider if you have any complaints with regard to the service you are receiving, or if your rights are not being observed. If you are not satisfied with the way in which your complaint is handled, you can also contact organisations such as:

a. The Office of the Public Protector

b. The South African Human Rights Commission

c. The Commission on Gender Equality

d. The Independent Complaints Directorate

e. Metropolitan Police Offices

f. The Health Professions Council of South Africa

g. A lawyer of your own choice and at your own expense

For more information on any issue contained in this Charter you can contact the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development’s Gender Directorate at the following numbers:

Tel: 012 315 1670

Tel: 012 315 1296

Fax: 012 315 1960

As well as Court Services Support Directorate at the following numbers:

Tel: 012 315 1830 Email:

Tel: 012 315 1378 Website: http//

Fax: 012 315 1851