Saturday, August 18, 2007

Current Affairs South Africa: Sexually Abused Children

This article nearly did not see the light. It was written in ice cold anger. Researching this topic had me seething and kicking inanimate objects all over the house. This is intolerable. Belonging to different cultures are not an excuse for inhumane attitudes and practises. We all live in the 21st century and should be judged and treated accordingly. To expect me to have an accommodating politically correct approach when addressing where the blame lies does not wash. I will however, now, refrain from doing so as I fear that my feelings of disgust will diminish the significance of the facts I need to bring to your attention. I will address the blame at a later stage.

I quote liberally from a well researched document of The infant trust. I am not going to list their sources as I want this post to be read and not be considered as “yet another boring research” document. (The sources as well as the full document are available on request) I also take the liberty to edit their document in an effort to generate impact. My intent is well meant and I do list their exact figures.

I believe that I can safely state that it is just about every civilised person’s view that every child has an unalienable right to be safe and free from violence, harm and abuse. This is listed as the first and primary belief and value of The infant trust.

Let us examine the realities on the ground in South Africa.

Some of the relevant facts around the emotive issue of small child abuse in South Africa are:

Most (not all) abuse is sexual.

In May 2002 the SA government said that 5,859 cases of rape of pre-school children were reported to the South African Police Services. Many estimates put the number at 7 times this figure: 41,013 with 1,5 million children estimated to be abused every year.

In 2004 Childline SA noted a massive increase in the numbers of child sexual abuse, up by 400% was recorded on the previous 10 years; for example, in Kwazulu-Natal, over 75% of all rapes were against children younger than 18 years old (In my opinion the “virgin cure myth” of traditional healers played a major role)

In 2001 two thousand and forty [2,040] children in one province, Gauteng, under 12 years of age were physically and traumatically raped.

It was reported in 2004 that 50% of all children attending KwaZulu therapy services [the only figures available] following abuse were under 7 years old.

HIV and AIDS are decimating families and extended families; child-headed families are becoming the norm, and they are in the greatest danger from abusers simply because they are the least protected. The numbers of orphans of all ages, particularly babies, is rising due to HIV/AIDS deaths; for example in Limpopo province over 50% of the children have lost both their biological parents and are either living with caretakers or on their own as sibling groups

The numbers of street children left alone during the day is rising rapidly – they are extremely vulnerable.

Children from all racial groups are raped with the numbers proportionate to the population figures

Only around 0,5 % of perpetrators are convicted

Unemployment in at least 5 of the 8 provinces in South Africa is running at around 60%; possibly higher in the poorer townships.

There are many different models of providing frontline care for children who have been abused. The South African National Prosecuting Authority provides some funds for Thutuzelas [crisis centres]; there they aim to bring together all the elements of treatment and follow-up care. The Thutuzelas are staffed by willing but largely untrained volunteers and a few paid care workers. Volunteers in these, and numerous other children’s services, are paid a small stipend for between 40 and 80 hours a week. Because many see volunteering as a job (note unemployment) some services will not use volunteers, or only use them for a maximum of one year; this decision has a major impact on what services can be provided. It is, however, informally and formally recognised that volunteers are a major source of information and knowledge for their community.

In a nutshell that is the situation on the ground. A massive problem addressed primarily by volunteers and charities. They need our help. Please donate to the link headed “a worthwhile cause.”

Rest assured that I will, at a later stage, address where I believe the blame is to be found. I am not known for my diplomacy.


Rana said...

Gerrie, I am as appalled as you are at the situation on the ground, and extremely concerned. I've started a cause on Facebook to heighten awareness of the situation. My stance is:

EVERY CHILD MATTERS. We want to highlight the plight of abused and raped children in South Africa - numerous child abuse and child rape cases are often deemed to be not newsworthy. STOP CHILD ABUSE.
Description: "South Africa has an exceptionally high rate of sexual abuse perpetrated against children. It is estimated that 40% to 50% of all reported cases of rape are against children, and when considering the fact that rape is highly under-reported in South Africa, it is estimated that approximately 500,000 children are raped in South Africa each year (Rape Crisis, 2002).
Further understanding of societal views regarding abuse, motivations of perpetrators and the role family honour and gender roles play may be crucial keys to reducing the prevalence of sexual abuse against pre-school children in South Africa.
Although most abuse is sexual, high numbers of physical and emotional abuse is also reported. Childline SA has reported a 400% increase in abuse against young children over the past ten years. The rapid increase in abuse against young children has been blamed on various factors including poverty, overcrowding. the HIV pandemic and it’s related “virgin curing myth” and cultural affects that resulted from the South African apartheid regime.
The majority of known perpetrators of sexual violence against pre-school children in South Africa are apparently ‘normal’ individuals with no known history of mental illness. They are also known to vary significantly in age, with perpetrators of as young as 10 years not uncommon, making the task of profiling near impossible.
It is believed that most pre-school victims are sexually abused by a familiar individual, often a family member. A large proportion of sexual abuse in pre-school children is believed to be known by family members, but goes unreported.
Protecting children from violence in South Africa is a matter of urgency. There is a lack of research focussing on societal views regarding what constitutes child abuse, and no research has focussed specifically on adult reactions towards suspected sexual abuse of pre-school children in South Africa."

Positions: Stop child abuse in South Africa immediately - every child matters.
Stop child rapists in South Africa - every child has the right to feel safe and to be safe.
Stop child murders in South Africa - every child has the right to live life to the full and to be cared for.
REPORT every single case of child abuse to ALL the agencies involved.
ACTION is needed - and the sponsoring of research projects which might help spur the government to urgent action!

I've had more than 1,700 people supporting this cause in a short time, and supporters are continually signing up. It is obviously something which many people have serious concerns about. Thank you for speaking out on this issue.

Any reader who wishes to subscribe to the cause, please copy and paste the above link.

Rana Muller

i care said...

i agree :)
i live i afria, northrn part, we never really look down at other crises in the south :)
am 16, i feel so sad abot it, i feel ashamed and unpowerful,i took my desecion i try to help now with all my pwoer and time plz come see my blog, needing some thoughts and pics from yall :)

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