Crime stats don't reflect 'epidemic' scale of sexual assaults on children - expert

2017-10-24 19:22
Police Minister Fikile Mbalula. (File photo: GCIS)

Police Minister Fikile Mbalula. (File photo: GCIS)

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WATCH: #CrimeStats - sexual offences and 'trio crimes'

2017-10-24 12:17

Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula presented the annual South African Crime statistics in Parliament on Tuesday morning. Here's everything you need to know. While there has been a decrease in sexual offences, there was a huge spike in 'trio crimes'. Watch. WATCH

Johannesburg - Two weeks before Police Minister Fikile Mbalula announced that 9.1% of reported rape victims were nine years old or younger, a security guard was arrested for sexually assaulting 87 girls at a Soweto primary school.

When the story first broke, the number of pupils alleged to have been sexually assaulted was 54, however, that number later rose to 87. Some of the victims were as young as five.

Mbalula released the crime statistics to the Portfolio Committee on Police in Parliament on Tuesday morning.

AS IT HAPPENED #CrimeStats: We are on duty; things are going to change - Mbalula

According to experts, more than 80% of children who are sexually assaulted are victims of those close to them.

An expert, who spoke to News24 on Tuesday afternoon, agreed that sexual assault on children was an epidemic in the country.

Women and Men against Child Abuse director Vincentia Dlamini said the current statistics were not a true reflection of the magnitude of the scourge of child rape. 

"Most of these abuses happen behind closed doors. There are a lot of historical abuse cases reported as children couldn't talk about their abuse because they were vulnerable.

"Sometimes they fear the repercussions and, even when they want to talk about the abuse, someone is actually stopping them from talking," she said.

Dlamini said some cases were only reported 20 years down the line. It put an enormous strain on the well-being of children if cases were not reported, or if no one believed them, she added. 

Victim blaming

"A child who reported it and nobody believes them; a relationship of trust has been broken. You trust your parents to believe you".

Dlamini said abused children found it difficult to form meaningful relationships and that they harboured a lot of anger and resentment. 

"By the time they feel powerful and feel that they are no longer vulnerable, and think about their abuse, there are issues of stigma attached to it. There is a lot of victim blaming. They are going to be called names".

She said those who never reported their abuse ended up becoming difficult teenagers, turned to substance abuse and later suffered from mental health issues. 

Read more on:    fikile mbalula  |  johannesburg  |  crime  |  sexual abuse  |  crime stats 2017

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