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'The current justice system is anything but friendly to sexual crime victims'

17 October 2019 2:53 PM
Tags:
Murder
Rape
Rape culture
Femicide South Africa
rape kits
rape laws

Joanne Joseph engages organisations and the Department of Justice on the possibilities of changing rape laws.

South Africa has been shaken by the scourge of gender-based violence in recent months.

The death of Uyinene Mrwetyana, Leighandre Jegels, Meghan Cremer and Jesse Hess at the hands of men sparked a number of protests across the country, with many calling for harsher sentences for sexual offenders.

The hashtag #AmINext started trending on social media as more than 30 women were killed last month.

The 2018/2019 crime statistics showed that police recorded 41,583 rapes cases, which meant an average of 114 rapes were recorded by the police each day.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced an emergency plan to stop the surge in violence against women which included directing resources to improve the functioning of sexual offences courts and Thuthuzela care centres.

Joanne Joseph hosted a town hall with various organisations and the Department of Justice about the challenges faced by rape victims and the possibilities of changing rape laws.

Here is the full discussion...

On Wednesday, the Democratic Alliance said several police stations across the country still do not have rape kits in stock.

Rape survivor and Date Night SA founder Leilani Kuter says it is a huge problem that police stations do not have rape kits.

It is a huge problem and apparently it all boils down to one tender.

Leilani Kuter, Rape survivor and founder Date Night SA

There must be easier ways for people to go and report these crimes, especially in rural areas.

Leilani Kuter, Rape survivor and founder Date Night SA

Professor Bonita Meyersfield of the Wits Applied Legal Centre states her concerns around the criminal justice system.

It is being developed from the male perspective and from a perspective that addresses crime committed 'in public'.

Professor Bonita Meyersfield, Wits Applied Legal Centre

We are still dragging along this huge burden of a male-developed and a male-oriented justice system from centuries ago.

Professor Bonita Meyersfield, Wits Applied Legal Centre

Police need sensitivity training, says Celeste Louw from the Optimistic Bikers Against Abuse.

She says they understand the police are dealing with a lot of issues but they need to consider the victim.

Department of Justice spokesperson Chrispin Phiri says if people treat a sexual offence crime as though it's like any other crime, in his view, they are also perpetrators.

Because of the human rights past that South Africa has, it uses the adversarial system to prove everything beyond a reasonable doubt, says child protection and development specialist Luke Lamprecht.

The accused has to prove nothing, just doubt. This system is anything but victim-friendly.

Luke Lamprecht, Child protection and development specialist

The system is actually abusive to its own victims.

Luke Lamprecht, Child protection and development specialist

What makes it worse with the adversarial system is that when parole comes up the victims again have to make statements to make sure the person remains in jail.

Luke Lamprecht, Child protection and development specialist



17 October 2019 2:53 PM
Tags:
Murder
Rape
Rape culture
Femicide South Africa
rape kits
rape laws

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