12000 child victims in Gauteng last year

IT' WORSE: Lizette Schoombie. 09/03/09. Pic. Antonio Muchave. © Sowetan.
IT' WORSE: Lizette Schoombie. 09/03/09. Pic. Antonio Muchave. © Sowetan.

Zinhle Mapumulo and Namhla Tshisela

Zinhle Mapumulo and Namhla Tshisela

The statistics are shocking. Last year alone, more than 12000 children were raped in Gauteng.

Three different institutions - the provincial government, the Teddy Bear Clinic and Childline in Johannesburg - released the statistics yesterday and they paint a grim picture.

Lizette Schoombie, director of the Teddy Bear Clinic, said: "The reported cases are just a fraction of the actual number of children raped in Gauteng.

"The situation is more scarier than it seems. Thousands of children are sexually abused in this province but many of them do not report the incidents. Some fear being victimised while others are forced into silence by those who are supposed to support them [parents or guardians]."

In 2006 the Teddy Bear Clinic recorded 3050 cases of rape and the following year the number increased to 3 058. Last year the number escalated to 3 628. The cases were reported from three regions - Soweto, Krugersdorp and Johannesburg.

For their part, Gauteng's clinics and hospitals treated 3 880 rapes in 2008 and 3852 the previous year, according to statistics released by health MEC Brian Hlongwa in response to a question by the DA.

Kids Clinic reported that 1502 children were raped.

Schoombie criticised the closure of the SAPS child protection unit a few years ago, citing this as the reason some of the rape cases went unreported.

"Rape victims find it difficult to relay their ordeal to a person who is not trained to deal with the situation. Some police officers have no idea how to deal with a child who has been abused. As a result many cases never make it to court."

Lynne Cawood, director of the ChildLine, who said their centre reported more than 4000 rapes, echoed Schoombie's concerns.

"The closure of the child protection unit has made matters worse," she said.

The DA has also expressed concern over how many children "actually received" antiretroviral treatment after being raped.

DA Gauteng health spokesperson Jack Bloom said it was alarming that 44percent of child rape survivors treated at public health facilities between 2005 and 2008 "did not" receive ARV treatment.

The treatment should be administered within three days of rape to minimise HIV infection.

Bloom said those who had received the treatment did not complete it because little "follow-up" was done by public health facilities.

"Rape survivors should receive specialist treatment. They should receive a full month course of ARV treatment and home visits to ensure that they complete it."

He said the number of child rape survivors treated at hospitals and clinics was probably an "underestimation" because most rape cases were not reported.

According to Hlongwa's replies to Bloom's questions, child rape survivors did not complete the ARV treatment because of "medical side effects, lack of food and that some parents did not have transport to take the child to a health facility on a weekly basis".