NGOs question sex crime figures
Thirty organisations have requested an urgent meeting with Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and the police’s Crime Information and Analysis Centre, saying they are concerned about the way the crime statistics were interpreted and collected.
The NGOs have formed a coalition called the Shukumisa Campaign.
The NGOs say the 0.4 percent decrease in rape cases in 2012/13 was not a true reflection of the number of rapes.
“Only a fraction of domestic violence (cases are) coming to the police’s attention.
A decline in numbers is not to be celebrated,” Shukumisa Campaign researcher Lisa Vetten said in a letter to Mthethwa and national police Commissioner General Riah Phiyega.
“In future we’d like to see more focus on thoughtful planning for services and prevention.
“Domestic violence cases are recorded as murder, rape, or assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
“A method needs to be figured out to abstract and collate this data.”
Shukumisa includes Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust, Childline and the University of Cape Town’s Gender, Health and Justice Research Unit.
Police statistics released on Thursday showed there had been a 0.4 percent decrease in the number of rape cases reported nationally in the 12 months to March 31.
Vetten said a decline in the figures showed a “loss of confidence” in the criminal justice system and that people were chosing not to report sexual crimes.
She said the campaign was awaiting a response from Mthethwa’s office.
Rape Crisis director Kathleen Dey said rape was one of the most under-reported crimes and the police’s statistics did not reflect this.
“Gender Links and the South African Medical Research Council found that one quarter of women in a 1997 study had been raped in their lifetimes, while almost one in 12 women had been raped in 2009.
“But only one in 13 women raped by a non-partner reported the matter to the police and one in 25 of women raped by their partners reported this to the police.”
Dey said rape, domestic violence and sexual assault should be recorded separately as this could assist NGOs in helping these communities.
Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (Sweat) director Sally-Jean Shackleton said the statistics were “worrying” as it could indicate that women were reporting rape cases far less.
“It’s a concern because it (the figure) doesn’t indicate which of the sexual offences fall under Section 11 of the Sexual Offences Act, which includes sex workers, their clients and other brutal sexual assaults.”
The figures were “ineffective” for organisations working in the sexual offences field as the large number of unreported cases was not reflected.