n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Child rape in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa : an analysis of substantiated cases

Volume 17, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



It is generally acknowledged that child rape constitutes a serious problem in South Africa, with there being evidence to suggest that the incidence of child rape has increased in recent years. However, there have been few systematic attempts to explore the nature and scope of the problem, and no concerted attempt to explore changing patterns of child rape over time. In this context it seemed appropriate to examine patterns of child rape in a large and representative sample of reported cases and to examine secular trends in reporting over a two-year period.

The research was based on a retrospective review of the medical and social work files of 1 496 raped children who were seen at a crisis centre attached to the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Hospital in Phoenix (KwaZulu-Natal) in the period January 2002 to December 2003. For purposes of the study, a child was defined as a person under the age of 18 years and a 'substantiated case' was defined as a case where the results of a medical examination were consistent with the form of abuse reported.
The data indicates a positive correlation between the incidence of rape victimisation and the victim's age, with the highest percentage of victims falling in the 12 to 17 year age category. The modal offender was a person who was known to the child (81% of cases) and most rapes (75%) took place indoors. An analysis of secular trends indicates a consistent increase in the incidence of reported rape over the two-year period (with this increase being largely attributable to increased rates of reporting by children in the 12 to 17 year age category) and a marked increase in the proportion of victims testing positive for HIV/Aids over the two year period (6.5% in 2002, 10% in 2003).

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