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Rape is endemic in South Africa. Why the ANC government keeps missing the mark

Rape in South Africa is systemic and endemic. The country’s annual police crime statistics confirm this. There were 42 289 rapes reported in 2019/2020, as well as 7 749 sexual assaults. This translates into about 115 rapes a day.

South Africa has one of the highest rape statistics in the world, even higher than some countries at war.

The picture has been more or less the same every year since the early 2000s, with the numbers going slightly up or down.

But policies to deal with the urgency of these very high levels of sexual violence tend to individualise rape in a way that creates the impression that only some men rape. And that they are the “rotten apples” or the “monsters”.

The response from the police – as well as the governing African National Congress (ANC) – underscores the failure to appreciate the systemic nature of the problem.

This was evident again recently at an ANC policy conference where it was clear that ministers and the ANC Women’s League continue to individualise rape. The conference agreed to a draft policy calling for chemical castration for rapists.

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