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Friday, 25 January, 2002, 00:58 GMT
SA teachers 'raping pupils'
South African schoolgirls
The study revealed a high proportion of rape in schools
One-third of rapes of young girls in South Africa are carried out by school teachers, according to a new report.

A study carried out by the Medical Research Council of South Africa says child rape is becoming commonplace in the country, with many victims under the age of 15 years.


Infant rape is a brutal act, which appears to be increasing in frequency in South Africa

MRC report
The report's authors say the South African Government has been slow to educate the population about sexual abuse and has failed to provide adequate medical care for victims of sex attacks.

The findings follow a rise in reported sex crimes against young children in South Africa, including rapes of babies, some just months old.

The results of the survey were published in the British medical journal The Lancet.

Young victims

According to the survey, 85% of children who were raped were between 10 and 14-years-old.

Child rapes
85% of victims aged 10-14 years
15% of victims aged between five and nine years
33% of child rapes committed by teachers
21% carried out by relatives or strangers
10% committed by boyfriends
Fifteen per cent of attacks took place against children between the ages of five and nine.

The survey found that the same proportion of attacks were carried out by victims' relatives as they were by strangers, while a large proportion were perpetrated by boyfriends of the victims.

One of the survey's authors, Rachel Jewkes, said the phenomenon was a major concern.

"Our findings confirm that rape of girls, especially in school, is a substantial public health problem in South Africa," she said.

The author said research was needed for a better understanding of the social context in which the rapes took place and to develop preventative measures against such attacks.

She said that some victims from some racial groups were more likely to report the crime, with white girls more likely to speak out.

Indians on the other hand are more anxious to cover up a rape, because of fears that loss of virginity might reduce the chances of marriage.

"Most people are raped by people of the same racial group. So in the majority of cases, Africans will be raped by Africans and white women will be raped by white," she said.

Although South Africa has recently introduced laws against sexual relations between pupils and staff, they were still proving difficult to enforce, Ms Jewkes said.

Virgin myth

A series of recent baby rapes has stunned South Africans and left many questioning the direction its society is going.

South African Aids victim
Baby rapists believe sex with a virgin can cure Aids

The report highlighted the belief among many perpetrators that having sex with virgins can cure Aids, in a country which has the highest number of sufferers of the disease in the world.

The study was highly critical of the South African Government's attitude towards HIV and Aids, which, it said, was a major cause of its failure to make anti-retroviral drugs widely available to rape victims.

It said regulations surrounding the testing of suspected rapists for HIV for use as evidence in court were "confused" and needed clarifying.

The report also said treating infant victims of sex crimes was not enough in itself.

"Concerted action is needed to halt this abhorrent crime," it said.

See also:

11 Dec 01 | Africa
Baby rapes shock South Africa
27 Mar 01 | Africa
Sex threat to SA students
10 Jan 01 | Africa
Aids threat to SA education
27 Nov 00 | Africa
SA: Standing up to rapists
13 Oct 99 | Africa
Fighting back against rape
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