‘Cramped living conditions a factor in child rape’

2008-12-30 00:00

The KwaZulu-Natal Health Department has sounded an alarm about the high incidence of child rape over the festive season.

Health spokesman Chris Maxon said child rape makes up 59% of rape cases reported to at least two Durban hospitals, Mahatma Gandhi Memorial in Phoenix and Prince Mshiyeni Memorial in Umlazi.

A nurse working at Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Hospital, which treats a large number of child rapes and provides holistic care, cited the geographical outlay and problems of human settlement as factors contributing to child rape.

“Living spaces may be a 10 x 8 room where a large number of individuals live (10 or more) — parents, children, grandparents, uncles, or friends all live in one cramped space.

“People must undress, bathe, and sleep in extremely small areas without partitions. There are no private areas for parents to have sexual relations and members of the family may sleep next to children on the floor — grandfathers or uncles sleeping next to small children.

“Children going to outhouses late in the evening may be sent alone and exposed to possible rape or violence,” said the nurse.

Since the beginning of December, the KZN department of Health has been monitoring non-natural deaths and injuries in at least 11 of the large hospitals in the Durban/Pietermaritzburg area. To date, figures show major increases since last year in the number of casualties of violence, with assaults going up exponentially from 694 in 2007 to 3 131 in 2008.

There were 437 reports of rape this year compared to 75 in 2007, 27% of which were child rapes. Stabbings doubled from 462 in 2007 to 1 056 this year. So did gunshot injuries, from 101 to 205.

While the Transport Department has noted a decline in the number of road accidents in the province this Christmas, Health’s monitoring system has picked up that more people were injured in different road accidents.

Vehicle accident casualties for 2008 were 1 840 compared to 875 in 2007.

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