Cape Town - This week a five-year-old Cape Town girl was lauded for her bravery after she led police to the man she said had raped her. The 49-year-old suspect appeared in court and will remain in custody until an identity parade is carried out.

According to crime statistics released earlier this year, more than 30 000 rapes were reported from April to December 2016. And this shocking figure only reflects cases that were reported to police. Many cases are thrown out of court due to lack of evidence which is the key factor in securing a conviction.

The horrific reality is that we need to know what to do if we become victims of this crime. 

According to the Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust, these are the important guidelines to follow should you become a victim:

1. GET TO A SAFE PLACE. Do this as soon as possible.
2. TELL SOMEONE. It may be very difficult for you to tell someone what has happened to you, but it’s important because this person can support your story and back you up in court.
3. DO NOT WASH YOURSELF: There might be hair, blood or semen on your body or clothes that can be used as evidence.
4. IF YOU ARE INJURED go straight to a hospital, community health centre or doctor.
5. REPORT THE RAPE If you want to report the rape, go to the police station nearest to where the attack took place as soon as you can. Ask a friend or family member to go with you for support. Keep the name of the police officer in charge of your case and your case number.
6. IF YOU’RE AFRAID If you fear retribution or intimidation by the rapist/s, make sure the police are aware of this and ask that the rapist/s not be allowed out on bail.
7. FORENSIC EXAMINATION A doctor will examine every part of your body to find and collect samples of hair, blood or semen. This is part of the police investigation to gather evidence of the crime.
8. GET SUPPORT Ask for pamphlets or booklets on rape and the number of a local counselling service to give you further support and advice about the police matter, court case and any other effects of the rape.
9. GET TREATMENT Whether or not you want to lay a charge, make sure that within 72 hours you take:
* The Morning After Pill (MAP) to prevent pregnancy;
* An HIV test and antiretroviral treatment to prevent a HIV infection;
* Antibiotics to prevent a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI).

Even if you don’t report the rape, you still have the right to free treatment to prevent HIV within 72 hours of the rape.

You can contact Rape Crisis on www.rapecrisis.org.za or on their 24 hr crisis line: 021 4479762.