15,000 child rapes in three years
March 30th 2011
MORE than 15000 children under 18 years of age have been victims of rape over the past three years, the Ministry for Women, Children and People with Disabilities said.
Minister Lulu Xingwana said three-year records from Thuthuzela Care centres for rape victims showed that children between the ages of 12 and 17 were most at risk of sexual assault.
"In just three years, 28 Thuthuzela Care centres have been established, with more than 34000 victims visiting for assistance. The group of children between the ages of 12 and 17 years are emerging as the most vulnerable group and represents the majority (about 15000) of people visiting these centres," she said at the opening of Thuthuzela Care centre at Kopanong Hospital in Vereeniging yesterday.
Rape survivors are given antiretroviral drugs to reduce the risk of HIV infection, treated for sexually transmitted infections, counselled and helped to open a criminal case.
The minister said the centres were being established in communities with high incidences of sexual assault to provide a one-stop comprehensive service to rape victims.
"These centres are contributing to an increase in reporting of sexual assault cases as victims know they now have a place to run to for assistance, where they are treated with dignity and respect," she said.
Meanwhile, child rights activists welcomed the "no-nonsense" approach of the police portfolio committee in Parliament which reprimanded senior police for submitting an inadequate annual performance plan. Police were ordered to make their submission again yesterday.
"Police consistently claim that crimes against women and children are a priority. We want to know how they propose to make this a reality, and not just another paper promise," said Lisa Vetten of Shukumisa.Family violence, child protection and sexual offences units disbanded in 2006 will be operational again from Friday at 176 police stations.