Pretoria - Many rape cases in South Africa never reach the final stages of a guilty verdict – a situation women and human rights activists attribute to various factors, including negligent police work that results in a lack of evidence against perpetrators.
This has resulted in many rapists walking free, leaving many women who have fallen victim to the crime feeling helpless and never getting any justice.
But a city NGO has now developed a rape protocol chart which it hopes to get to as many women as possible around the country so they know exactly what to do after they have been raped.
The protocol, developed by Viva Foundation chief executive Meleney Kriel, has detailed information starting from when the rape takes place to when the suspect is finally sentenced.
Kriel said on Sunday she had decided to develop the protocol because many rapists got off the hook as many women were not aware of their role in ensuring that perpetrators are successfully prosecuted.
“The protocol contains a lot of information that women who are raped need to know. For instance, it is known that the best place to store evidence is in a paper bag, not a plastic one, because it attracts heat and gets moist, possibly destroying DNA evidence.
“We have also included the process to follow when reporting the crime,” said Kriel.
“Many rape cases are not reported, so the figures we have of how many women have been raped are probably much higher.”
The protocol also has information about the roles of different role players, including the state prosecutor and the court processes from when the suspect first appear
s in court.
“Most women who are raped are from underprivileged backgrounds and do not have this kind of information. They also blame themselves most of the time.
“For instance, many women blame themselves for being raped if they had been drinking.
“What they need to understand is that drinking is not a crime, being drunk is not a crime but rape is a crime.
“That is why the protocol also includes the definition of rape so that they know exactly what it is.”
Kriel said they were looking to distribute the protocol to schools, clinics and everywhere where women would be able to access it easily.
“It is very expensive to print many copies so we have appealed for help from other organisations or companies that are keen to help.
“Rape is a societal issue and we need everybody involved.
“The protocol is also available in booklet form and we are looking to make more copies of the the booklet and the chart,” said Kriel.
She said she was extremely concerned about the fact that there were still some areas in South Africa where rapists were often lauded by their peers, which could only result in more rapes.
“There are many people who know people who have gotten away with rape, now it is time people also knew people who were locked up for rape,” she said.