Cape Town - More than half of the rape victims who received Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) treatments in Gauteng over the past five years were children.
This is according to information from Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa in an answer to a question from DA MPL Jack Bloom.
Gauteng's 26 specialist rape treatment centres have given PEP treatment to 21 757 rape victims over the past five years to prevent HIV/Aids infection.
According to Ramokgopa, "all health facilities assess rape victims and then refer them to a nearby, dedicated Clinical Forensic Medical Service [CFMS] and/or Thuthuzela [Care] Centre [TCC] for examination, evidence collection and psychosocial support by trained personnel. This is meant to avoid secondary victimisation as a result of having to wait in long queues in clinics and hospitals".
There are 26 such facilities in Gauteng and, according to Ramokgopa, training of health professionals in this specialised area was continuing so that ultimately all facilities provided this service.
"Good work is being done to prevent HIV infection in rape victims, but I am horrified by the tragically high number of victims, most of whom are children," said Bloom in a statement.
According to Ramokgopa, 12 755, or 59%, of the 21 757 rape victims who received PEP from 2012-13 to 2016-17 were children. Last year, 3 595, or 61%, of the 5 861 rape victims treated were children.
The 2016-17 figure is much higher than that of previous years.
The number of patients accessing the rape treatment centres had gone up since 2012 because of increased information about these centres, some of which operate for 24 hours, Ramokgopa said.
But there were still many victims who do not visit these centres - official statistics show more than 7 000 rapes a year in Gauteng, which is probably much lower than the real rate because of under-reporting.
"Every effort should be made to ensure that all rape victims know where to get treatment to ensure that they do not get HIV/Aids from rapists," said Bloom.