Archbishop Desmond Tutu has said the rape trial of ex-Deputy President Jacob Zuma was "one of the worst moments" in the life of South Africa's democracy.
Tutu has long spoken out against injustices in South Africa
Mr Zuma was acquitted of rape two weeks ago, in a trial that revealed problems about HIV awareness and the treatment of rape complainants in South Africa.
The archbishop and nobel laureate made the comments during a visit to London where he is promoting scholarships.
"It's been a very distressing time for all of us," Archbishop Tutu said.
"I've been saddened by the reinforcement of the stereotype that when a woman accuses a man of rape, she is made out to be the guilty one, and that her sexual history is then brought up - whether true or not.
"It makes it very difficult for a woman to bring charges of rape as she'll nearly always end up being the accused."
The archbishop described the behaviour of Mr Zuma's supporters - who insulted the accuser and burnt her photograph outside court - as "abominable".
"It is sad that we can use our freedoms in such a way that it stomps all over the dignity of the accused," he said.
Mr Zuma still faces a separate charge of corruption - which he denies - to be heard in July.
Analysts say evidence aired in the rape trial has damaged his reputation, but he retains a firm following among some members of the governing ANC party.
After his acquittal the ANC decided that Mr Zuma should resume his duties as the party's deputy leader, from which he had been suspended when the rape charge was brought against him late last year.
Mr Zuma, who played a key role in the fight against apartheid, admitted having had sex with his accuser, a 31-year-old family friend - but insisted it was consensual.