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One female every 26 seconds raped in South Africa

By Adriana Stuijt     Mar 5, 2009 in Crime
Only countries at war suffer as much sexual violence as South Africa, warns Doctors Without Borders (MSF) on Thursday, in a global report highlighting the problems of rape. "The figures we have are alarming," said Meinie Nicolai of MSF.
"The figures we have are alarming, but they are just a tip of the iceberg as most cases go unreported," said Meinie Nicolai, operational director for the group, known by its French initials MSF. Related news
Similar warnings have also been sounded repeatedly by South African-born actress Charlize Theron, speaking as UN Messenger of Peace, who says: "the situation is "horrific."
Appointed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, she leads the worldwide Campaign to End Violence against Women. Theron founded the Cape Town Rape Crisis Centre in 1999 to deal with the widespread cases of rape and the high number of people infected with HIV, the virus that leads to deadly Aids.
Theron founded The Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project in partnership with the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) to help improve the lives of poor children and their families in South Africa, particularly those suffering from HIV/Aids. Theron, who won an Academy Award for her portrayal of a serial killer in the film Monster last year, has used her star power to advocate for women since she emerged on the international scene more than a decade ago. see
"In conflicts rape can be used to humiliate, punish, control, inflict fear and destroy communities," MSF said in the latest report. "In times of stability, sexual violence is also a grave problem, devastating health and lives," it said.
Congo, South Africa, Colombia...
Some of the countries that suffer the most rapes include Liberia, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa and Colombia. On average in those countries, 35 women are raped every day, MSF said.
Although sexual violence is exacerbated in war, MSF says it also affects millions of people living in post-conflict countries or even in stable environments.
It is normal to be raped
In South Africa, rape is associated with criminal activity and domestic violence. "We have noticed that rape in societies has become normal, it has become normal to be raped," said Janine Josias, an MSF doctor working in Khayelitsha, outside Cape Town.
Khayelitsha township south of Cape Town, where MSF runs a combined TB-AIDS treatment clinic, has one of the highest rape incidences -- in a country where it is estimated that a woman is violated every 26 seconds. But Josias said a growing number of men were also being raped.
"We have seen a growing number of males who are victims of rape. Generally boys and men go unrecognised and untreated," she said. However, women still make up the vast majority of victims.
In 2007, MSF treated over 12 000 victims of sexual assault worldwide, in both conflict settings and stable environments. More info.
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