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An estimated 500 000 rape cases take place every year in South Africa alone. The South African Police force estimate that a women is raped every 36 seconds. An estimated 50% of all South African women will be raped in their lifetime and only 1 in 9 cases will be reported.*

Scary, isn’t it?

But why? Why are the numbers so high? Why are there so few rapes reported? The rape crisis in South Africa has been named an epidemic. It is an occurrence in all communities, it is something that plagues our society and our way of life. So why is it happening? And how can we work together to stop it?

The first steps in stopping this epidemic is through education, reporting and responsibility and enforcement from the law. According to rapecrisis.org.za, the following are some of the reasons why 8 out of 9 rapes go unreported.

– Very often the survivor of rape fears a retaliation from the perpetrator or others

Rape survivors fear personal humiliation within their community. Unfortunately there is still a stigma attached to rape where the victim either brought it on themselves or that it was consensual.

– The psychological trauma that comes with such a violation, often makes it difficult for survivors to speak out. Very often they also do not have access to support services such as the one that LifeLine SA supplies http://www.lifeline.org.za.

– All too often the perpetrator is known to the rape survivor, even being a member of the family or a friend. The rape survivor is either fearful or does not want to cause pain to loved ones or is in fact reliant on the perpetrator for financial support, and so the vicious circle continues.

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* picture courtesy of rapecrisis.org.za

So why is it happening?

There are many theories, many reasons. And it is almost certain that the debate will continue for years to come. The emphasis now must be on education and accountability. Real men don’t rape. Sleeping with a virgin does not cure AIDS. No means no. It does not make you more of a man to force anyone to have sex with you. Violence is not a way of life.

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Silence doesn’t make it stop. This is where LifeLine can help. If you or anyone you know have been raped or threatened with rape, call the toll free number 0800 150 150, and stop the cycle of abuse. It isn’t easy, but it is necessary.

* Statistics courtesy of the South Africa Police Service 2012