Culture of Rape Plagues African Women

'Horrendous' work by cops, doctors helps perps go free
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 29, 2009 2:40 PM CDT
AIDS Legal Network (ALN) supporter, during a protest demonstration to 'resuscitate' justice, outside Cape Town High Court, South Africa, Thursday, Aug. 23, 2007.   (AP Photo/Obed Zilwa)
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(Newser) – Decades of violence have left South Africans numb to even the most gruesome acts of rape, NPR reports. Tens of thousands of women are raped each year, nearly half of them under 18, but many cases go unreported by victims. Cops and doctors, whose work is “horrendous,” aren’t much help either, said activist Romi Sigsworth: “It's definitely an attitude problem."

Slow police work often helps perpetrators escape conviction, while doctors commonly describe a victim’s condition as “alleged rape"—"not a medical conclusion," said Sigsworth. Most victims end up withdrawing cases, while about half make it to trial, and only 6% end in convictions. "The very strong patriarchal culture that is very much entrenched in South Africa" may play a role, Sigsworth said.