Scary fact: In South Africa, sexual crimes against women and children are on the rise. Recently crime statistics showed that in 2017/2018 there were over 40 000 reported rapes – the key word being “reported”…
The truth is many rapes and sexual assaults go unreported. But by not reporting the assault to the police or seeking medical attention, your risk increases dramatically. With HIV prevalence among young women in SA being nearly four times more than men of the same age, it’s vital that we do all that we can to protect ourselves.
Why Is Immediate Action So Important?
After a rape, you need to take immediate action and get to a hospital or clinic. Once there, they will collect evidence, assist with HIV and STI testing, treatment and pregnancy prevention.
Palesa Khambi, spokesperson for HIV/Aids NGO Right to Care, says: “If you’ve been raped or sexually assaulted, retain the evidence on your clothes and body and get to a police station as soon as possible. Rape is a crime – it wasn’t your fault, even if you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time. It can be difficult to report a rape and we know there have been cases where further trauma is experienced at the police station. However, if the case is not reported, the rapist will walk free, and is likely to rape again.”
Even if you have no intention of opening a case against the perpetrator, their DNA will still be added to the criminal database and can help convict them of past and future crimes. While there is no time limit on reporting rape, the sooner you report the crime, the easier it is to get the evidence needed for a court case.
The Exact Steps To Take After Being Raped
If you or someone you know has been assaulted, it important that you know how to handle what is come. Khambi provides the following in steps when it comes to reporting a rape or sexual assault.
– Get to a safe place and tell someone will be able to help and support you.
– Report the assault asap. You have the right to report the rape at any police station, no matter where the rape took place. If you can get to the police station close to where the incident took place, the police may have a better chance of gathering the evidence and catching the perpetrator.
– Lay a charge if you choose to – the police can’t tell you whether or not it’s correct to lay a charge.
– Be sure that you get all the info regarding your case – that includes copies of your police statement, plus any other forms you fill out.
– Go to the nearest hospital, clinic or Thuthuzela Care Centre as soon as you can. Don’t wash your body or remove your clothes. This is vital forensic evidence that will be used to prosecute the rapist.
– Ask the healthcare worker or doctor about HIV prevention and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) as well as about STI prevention and pregnancy risk.
– The doc will write her report on a J88 form, which is used in court. A J88 form is a legal document that is completed by a medical doctor or registered nurse – it documents injuries sustained by the victim. This info will then be used in the legal case – if you choose to lay a charge.
If you or a loved one have been sexually assaulted, you can contact the toll free Survivors’ Support Service on *134*1994*1#. This service is anonymous and will direct you to your nearest hospital, clinic, survivors shelter and Thuthuzela Care Centres.