Victory for rape victims

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi says raped women no longer have to lay a charge in order to access treatment at hospitals.

The minister made the announcement last week when he said: "We can no longer allow hospital CEOs to send back rape survivors to the police station to get case numbers first before getting treatment."

He said the country's largest HIV-Aids campaign, HIV counselling and testing would be launched on April 15 and would see a number of activities taking place that included post-exposure prophylaxis drugs for rape survivors at all health facilities.

But women's sexual rights organisation The One in Nine Campaign's national coordinator, Ishtar Lakhani, said while they welcomed the minister's initiative the move was already in place.

"It's always been the case that women don't need a case number when going to hospitals to access treatment. It's just that there has been much confusion around the issue.

"Unfortunately women who have been raped are always asked for case numbers because they are not believed," Lakhani said.

Despite this announcement, though, rape survivors say they are still afraid to talk about what their rapists subjected them to.

Charmaine Nelson, a 34-year-old mother of three from Wentworth in Durban, was raped at knife-point eight years ago. She said speaking about her ordeal was traumatic and she did not access treatment after she was raped.

"He told me he would walk me home from the club.," Nelson said. "He said we could have a few drinks at his house. But when I saw where he was taking me I asked him what he was doing. He demanded that I take off my panty and have sex with him.

"When I said no he pulled out a knife. I was s shocked afterwards that I just went home and acted as if nothing had happened to me. I did not even tell my mother. I only told my boyfriend."