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martedì 25 agosto 2015

Raped by the System

New research focusing on the state of police and health services available for victims of sexual offences shows that the processing of rape cases is often "inconsistent and riddled with problems".

Of the 62649 sexual-offences cases reported to the police in 2013-2014, only 5484 resulted in convictions. The other 57165 cases fell through the cracks.
Rape is under harsh public scrutiny again following the arrest of Nelson Mandela's grandson who allegedly raped a 15-year-old girl on August 7 in Johannesburg.
The police have already opened a case and arrested the alleged rapist. He has appeared in court twice and will appear again tomorrow.
But in most cases the police and courts do not operate with such efficiency.
New research focusing on the state of police and health services available for victims of sexual offences shows that the processing of rape cases is often "inconsistent and riddled with problems".
If prosecutors feel that a case is not strong enough, they do not proceed with it.
"If there is no corroborating evidence then it becomes a case of his word against her word," says an official of the National Prosecuting Authority who is cited in the report, "Health and Police Services to Sexual Offences Victims".
The report by independent researcher Joy Watson says that the odds are stacked heavily against rape survivors in their quest for justice.
The procedures are complex and the issues dealt with sensitive. Victims are traumatised, and police untrained, overworked and under-resourced, Watson says.
Interviews with police, prosecutors, forensic doctors and other experts revealed that:
  • Police are "inefficient and negligent" in collecting evidence, making the quality of detective work "generally poor";
  • If the perpetrator is unknown to the victim, detectives have only a 2% chance of finding him;
  • The NPA has had an "ongoing battle" to get the police to conduct timeous analysis of rape kits;
  • The Thuthuzela Care Centres - where rape victims go for assistance - report not having had rape kits for about 12 months; and
  • In 2014, auditors KPMG reported that gender-based violence cost South Africa between R28.4-billion and R42.4-billion a year, an estimated 0.9% to 1.3% of annual GDP.
Watson's report tracks how the bungling of cases often begins with the collection of evidence by the police whom victims approach first after an assault.
Police officers are "mistrustful and unsympathetic" towards victims, the research found.
Officials are tardy in taking statements from victims and at times do not take statements from witnesses.
Forensic evidence, crucial for rape cases, is compromised. Often police do not investigate the scene of the crime, the research revealed. In one case, a victim told the police that the rapist had removed her underwear and thrown it behind a stove, but police did not go back to the scene to collect this evidence for DNA testing.
Shockingly, rape kits "sit in closets" unused or "get lost".
Complaints about the time before courts receive DNA evidence was also voiced in the research. DNA evidence is supposed to be delivered to court within 30 days, but, NPA officials said, it can take anything from four to nine months.
The research found police officers' heavy workloads leave them "unable to cope with the demands placed on them". Limited resources also impede their ability to do their job. One member of the Family Violence Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit of the SAPS reported not having access to e-mails.
Other service providers also lack basic resources. For example, there are only 52 Thuthuzela Care Centres providing support to 419 police stations and thousands of rape victims in the country.
A doctor working at one of the centres said staff were trying to raise money for a camera to take photos of victims that could be used in court. Another doctor said "they were lucky" if they received the rape kits they needed.
The report calls for better training of service providers and a better system of accountability in the police.
Sarah Flemmer from the Ekupholeni Trauma and Mental Health Centre, said: "When we fail [to prosecute], survivors become victims. Not just victims of rape, but victims of the system that was meant to protect them."
Wits law professor Bonita Meyersfeld, who runs Lawyers against Abuse, said she sometimes advised women not to proceed with a rape case if the trial was going to be traumatic for them.
"If we expect women to report rape, we have to stand by them every step of the way.
"It is a terribly important thing to report rape but we have to be very realistic about what a trial costs the victim."
Lisa Vetten, a researcher at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research, said problems in prosecuting rape cases pointed to "deep systemic issues".
"There is great unevenness and lack of political will. We can't ask for specialised services in the context of a dysfunctional system."
Vetten said the Civilian Secretariat for Police's new policy for reducing barriers to reporting sexual offences and domestic violence would encourage more victims to come forward. The policy seeks to make policemen more accountable by using rape cases as a performance measure.
The SAPS had failed to comment at the time of going to print.

Raped by the system Aarti J Narsee 24 August, 2015

Raped, murdered and dumped in a drain 20 LUGLIO 2015

A South African rape video 19 APRILE 2012

Apocalisse dello Stupro in Sudafrica 30 NOVEMBRE 2013

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