Rape Statistics: South Africa & Worldwide 2011

Congo Rape Victims

It is estimated that a woman born in South Africa has a greater chance of being raped than learning how to read.[87] One in three of the 4,000 women questioned by the Community of Information, Empowerment and Transparency said they had been raped in the past year.[88] A survey conducted among 1,500 schoolchildren in the Soweto township, a quarter of all the boys interviewed said that ‘jackrolling’, a term for gang rape, was fun.[88] More than 25% of South African men questioned in a survey admitted to raping someone; of those, nearly half said they had raped more than one person, according to a new study conducted by the Medical Research Council (MRC).[89][90] It is estimated that 500,000 rapes are committed annually in South Africa.[91] A 2010 study led by the government-funded Medical Research Foundation says that in Gauteng province, home to South Africa’s most populous city of Johannesburg, more than 37 percent of men said they had raped a woman. Nearly 7 percent of the 487 men surveyed said they had participated in a gang rape.[92]

South Africa has some of the highest incidences of child and baby rape in the world with more than 67,000 cases of rape and sexual assaults against children reported in 2000.[93] Welfare groups believe that the number of unreported incidents could be up to 10 times that number. The largest increase in attacks was against children under seven. A number of high-profile baby rapes since 2001 (including the fact that they required extensive reconstructive surgery to rebuild urinary, genital, abdominal, or tracheal systems) increased the need to address the problem socially and legally. In 2001, a 9-month-old baby was raped by six men, aged between 24 and 66, after the infant had been left unattended by her teenage mother. A 4-year-old girl died after being raped by her father. A 14-month-old girl was raped by her two uncles. In February 2002, an 8-month-old infant was reportedly gang raped by four men. One has been charged. The infant has required extensive reconstructive surgery. The 8-month-old infant’s injuries were so extensive, increased attention on prosecution has occurred.[94] A common myth holds that sexual intercourse with a virgin will cure a man of HIV or AIDS. Child abusers are often relatives of their victims – even their fathers and providers.[95] According to researcher Suzanne Leclerc-Madlala, the myth that is not confined to South Africa.

Fellow AIDS researchers in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Nigeria have told me that the myth also exists in these countries and that it is being blamed for the high rate of sexual abuse against young children.”[96]

The sad reality is that rape statistics for South Africa in particular have gone up instead of done over the past 5 years. This is on trend with the rest of the world. But is this a trend we want to see grow ? In South Africa in 2006 there were close 55 000 reported rape cases. There are an estimated 450 000 rape cases that go unreported. Here is some more statistical information on rape worldwide.

Rape South Africa

Rape is an occurrence which, according to official statistics occurred approximately 16,000 times annually during the 1980s. By 2006 the official figure for rape was over 55 000 , unofficially, based on the premise put forward by the National Institute of Crime Rehabilitation that only one in twenty rapes are reported, the figure is over 494,000 a year.

This means that on average approximately one thousand three hundred women can be expected to be raped a day in South Africa.

A study by Interpol, the international police agency, has revealed that South Africa leads the world in rapes.

A woman was raped in South Africa every 17 seconds. This did not include the number of child rape victims. It was estimated that one in every two women would be raped.

Between 28 and 30 percent of adolescents reported that their first sexual encounter was forced.

Of South African men who knew somebody who had been raped, 16 percent believed that the rape survivor had enjoyed the experience and had asked for it. According to a recent study police estimated that only one in 36 rape cases was reported and of those only 15 percent culminated in a conviction.

The following information is from the Crime Statistics for South Africa 2010:

With regard to sexual offences, it was already stated in the Annual Report of the SAPS for 2008/2009 (p 4) that “Fully valid comparisons pertaining to the sexual offences will only become possible after the period 1 October 2009 to 31 March 2010”. However, it can be accepted that the comparisons of figures for the period 1 April 2009 – 31 March 2010 with those recorded from 1 April 2008 – 31 March 2009 will be much more valid than those in the 2008/2009 Annual Report, which indicated a 10,1% increase. This report for 2009/2010 indicates a ratio decrease of -4,4%, from 144.8 sexual offences per 100 000 of the RSA population in 2008/2009 to 138.5 sexual offences per 100 000 in 2009/2010. This represents a decrease of 2 182 cases, from 70 514 to 68 332. The main reason why historical comparisons between these figures of 70 514 and 68 332 cases and the figures of previous years are extremely difficult and even impossible, is that sexual offences as presently defined differ substantially from those recorded in the past – prior to December 2007. These now include a widened definition of rape (encompassing the formerly exclusive concept of vaginal rape, as well as adding oral and anal rape – and thus also male rape – which previously fell under the category of indecent assault). However, it then goes further to add a whole range of offences which never previously formed part of rape or indecent assault – such as sex work, pornography, public indecency and human trafficking. The addition of these sexual offences mainly generated by police action (at least 13 000 cases), makes it impossible to compare the present sexual offences figures as portrayed in table 1 with figures for rape and indecent assault recorded in the past. If all sexual offence cases registered in 2009/2010 which would have qualified as rape and indecent assault cases before 16 December 2007 are identified and counted, the result adds up to 55 097 cases. If this figure is compared to the last combined rape and indecent assault figures recorded for 2006/2007, which stood at 61 984 cases, a decrease of -11,1% is actually noted. This implies an average annual decrease of -3,7% from 2006/2007 to 2009/2010.

In future (from 2010/2011) a special effort will have to be made to separate sexual offences between those reported by the public (which basically comprise rape or sexual penetration and indecent assault) and sexual offences which are generated by police action (such as those relating to sex work or prostitution and pornography), in order to depict the figures separately Crimes Against Women and Children The number of counts of social contact or violent crime committed against adult women and children of both genders under the age of 18 (meaning up to the age of 17 years, 364 days, 23 hours and 59 minutes) are provided in tables 4 and 5 respectively. These tables indicate significant (actually shocking) increases of 42,3%, 36,1% and 14,5% respectively in the incidence of attempted murder, all sexual offences and murder against children between 2008/2009 and 2009/2010. The reader should be aware that the increases in attempted murder and murder against children are indeed real, but that these are based on relatively small numerical values. Attempted murder against children increased by 331 cases, from 782 to 1 113 and murder by 122 cases, from 843 to 965. The 36,1% increase in sexual offences against children, as well as the 19,8% increase in sexual offences against adult women (which represent 7 276 cases committed against children and 5 969 cases against adult women) are mainly due to an age and gender attribute problem that occurred during the implementation of the new sexual offences codes on the Crime Administration System (CAS) during December 2007. Basically there had been a period during which the gender and age attributes applicable to sexual offences were not recorded, because these were not compulsory fields on the CAS. This was only rectified during August 2009. It can be accepted that at least a proportion of the increase in sexual offences against children and women is indeed real and can in all probability be linked to a new awareness of sexual offences accompanying the implementation of the sexual offences legislation at the end of 2007. Government and the public should take note of the serious increase in murder, attempted murder and sexual offences against children, as well as the increase in sexual offences against adult women. It should also be emphasized that according to various previous analyses pertaining to crimes against children according to age, most of the crimes are committed against children between 15 – 17 years old (see e.g. the 2008/2009 SAPS Annual Report, pp 13 – 14). These indicated that 54,9% of murders, 59,6% of attempted murders, 70,8% of assaults GBH, 63,1% of common assaults and 39,5% of sexual offences committed against children were committed against those in the age group of 15 – 17 years. However, it is disturbing to notice that in the case of the most prevalent crime against children, namely the 27 417 cases of sexual offences against children, 60,0% were committed against children below the age of 15 years. It is even more worrying to note that 29,4% of these sexual offences involved children aged 0 – 10 years. (Note: This is disgusting, sickening, sad, enraging, 0-10 years ? 29.4 % ??? )

The following is an updated raw figure total of REPORTED sexual related crimes from the SAPS 2010 total Crime statistics – I hilight “REPORTED” as the majority of rapes go unreported. The SAPS say that it has decreased by 3.1% – however this decrease is not significant given the sheer numbers.
2003/4 – 66 079
2004/5 – 69 117
2005/6 – 68 076
2006/7 – 65 201
2007/8 – 63 818
2008/9 – 70 514
2009/10 – 68 332

United States of America

Somewhere in America, a woman is raped every 2 minutes, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

In 1995, 354,670 women were the victims of a rape or sexual assault. (National Crime Victimization Survey. Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice, 1996.)

Over the last two years, more than 787,000 women were the victim of a rape or sexual assault. (National Crime Victimization Survey. Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S.Department of Justice, 1996.)

The FBI estimates that 72 of every 100,000 females in the United States were raped last year. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, Uniform Crime Statistics, 1996.)


One of the most startling aspects of sex crimes is how many go unreported. The most common reasons given by women for not reporting these crimes are the belief that it is a private or personal matter and the fear of reprisal from the assailant.

Approximately 28% of victims are raped by husbands or boyfriends, 35% by acquaintances, and 5% by other relatives. (Violence against Women, Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Dept. of Justice, 1994)

The FBI estimates that only 37% of all rapes are reported to the police. U.S. Justice Department statistics are even lower, with only 26% of all rapes or attempted rapes being reported to law enforcement officials.

In 1994-1995, only 251,560 rapes and sexual assaults were reported to law enforcement officials — less than one in every three. (National Crime Victimization Survey, Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice, 1996.)

An overwhelming majority of rape service agencies believe that public education about rape, and expanded counseling and advocacy services for rape victims, would be effective in increasing the willingness of victims to report rapes to the police. (Rape in America, 1992, National Victim Center with Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center.)



According to the U.S. Department of Justice: (All statistics are taken from: Violence against Women, Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Dept. of Justice, 1994.)

One of every four rapes take place in a public area or in a parking garage.

31% of female victims reported that the offender was a stranger.

68% of rapes occur between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.

At least 45% of rapists were under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

In 29% of rapes, the offender used a weapon.

In 47% of rapes, the victim sustained injuries other than rape injuries.

75% of female rape victims require medical care after the attack.


Family violence and abuse are among the most prevalent forms of interpersonal violence against women and young children — both boys and girls. The sexual abuse of a child should never be “just a family matter,” but many children are afraid to report an incident to the police because the abusers are too often a family friend or relative.

Approximately one-third of all juvenile victims of sexual abuse cases are children younger than 6 years of age. (Violence and the Family, Report of the American Psychological Association Presidential Task Force on Violence and the Family, 1996.)

According to the Justice Department, one in two rape victims are under age 18; one in six are under age 12. (Child Rape Victims, 1992. U.S. Department of Justice.)



About 81% of rape victims are white; 18% are black; 1% are of other races. (Violence against Women, Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Dept. of Justice, 1994.)

About half of all rape victims are in the lowest third of income distribution; half are in the upper two-thirds. (Violence against Women, Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Dept. of Justice, 1994.)

There were 71 forcible rapes per 100,000 females reported to United States law enforcement agencies in 1996. 2

Data from the National Women’s Study, a longitudinal telephone survey of a national household probability sample of women at least 18 years of age, show 683,000 women forcibly raped each year and that 84% of rape victims did not report the offense to the police.3

Using Uniform Crime Report data for 1994 and 1995, the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that of rape victims who reported the offense to law enforcement, about 40% were under the age of 18, and 15% were younger than 12.4

In a national survey 27.7% of college women reported a sexual experience since the age of fourteen that met the legal definition of rape or attempted rape, and 7.7% of college men reported perpetrating aggressive behavior which met the legal definition of rape.5

The National Crime Victimization Survey indicates that for 1992-1993, 92% of rapes were committed by known assailants.1 About half of all rapes and sexual assaults against women are committed by friends and acquaintances, and 26% are by intimate partners.1

Risk factors for perpetrating sexual violence include: early sexual experience (both forced and voluntary),6 adherence by men to sex role stereotyping,7,8 negative attitudes of men towards women,6,9,,10,11,12, alcohol consumption,8,13 acceptance of rape myths by men.8,9,12,14,15

Non-forceful verbal resistance and lack of resistance are associated with rape completion.1,6

The adult pregnancy rate associated with rape is estimated to be 4.7%. This information, in conjunction with estimates based on the U.S. Census, suggest that there may be 32,101 annual rape-related pregnancies among American women over the age of 18.17

Non-genital physical injuries occur in approximately 40% of completed rape cases.18 As many as 3% of all rape cases have non-genital injuries requiring overnight hospitalization.19

Victims of rape often manifest long-term symptoms of chronic headaches,18,20fatigue20, sleep disturbance20, recurrent nausea,20 decreased appetite,21 eating disorders,22 menstrual pain,18 sexual dysfunction,23 and suicide attempts.21 In a longitudinal study, sexual assault was found to increase the odds of substance abuse by a factor of 2.5.24

Estimates of the occurrence of sexually transmitted diseases resulting from rape range from 3.6% to 30%.18,22 HIV transmission risk rate from rape is estimated at 1 in 500,22,25 although a few probable cases have been documented in Sweden and Great Britain. 26,27

Victims of marital or date rape are 11 times more likely to be clinically depressed, and 6 times more likely to experience social phobia than are non-victims. Psychological problems are still evident in cases as long as 15 years after the assault.28

Fatalities occur in about 0.1% of all rape cases.29,30

A study examining the use of health services over a five year period by female members of a health maintenance program found that the number of visits to physicians by rape victims increased 56% in the year following the crime, compared to a 2% utilization increase by non-victims.31

The National Public Services Research Institute estimates the lifetime cost for each rape with physical injuries which occurred in 1987 to be $60,000.32 The Comfort Women : Japan’s Brutal Regime of Enforced Prostitution in the Second World War .

United States

Main article: Rape in the United States

U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (1999) estimated that 91% of rape victims are female and 9% are male, with 99% of the offenders being male.[8] Some types of rape are excluded from official reports altogether, (the FBI’s definition for example excludes all rapes except forcible rapes of females), because a significant number of rapes go unreported even when they are included as reportable rapes, and also because a significant number of rapes reported to the police do not advance to prosecution.[64] According to United States Department of Justice document Criminal Victimization in the United States, there were overall 191,670 victims of rape or sexual assault reported in 2005.[65] Only 16% of rapes and sexual assaults are reported to the police (Rape in America: A Report to the Nation. 1992 and United Nations Populations Fund, 2000a).[66][67] Factoring in unreported rapes, about 5% of rapists will ever spend a day in jail.[68] 1 of 6 U.S. women has experienced an attempted or completed rape.[69] More than a quarter of college age women report having experienced a rape or rape attempt since age 14.[70]

The U.S. Department of Justice compiles statistics on crime by race, but only between and among people categorized as black or white. It should be noted that the “white” category in the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) includes non-black Hispanics.[71] There were 194,270 white and 17,920 black victims of rape or sexual assault reported in 2006. Out of the 194,270 cases involving white victims, 50.6% had white offenders and 16.7% had black offenders, while the 36,620 black victims had a figure of 43% black offenders, the remaining being of other or unreported race, with a negligible number of white offenders.[72] Gary LaFree’s rape data for the 45-year period revealed that blacks were arrested for rape an average of 6.52 times more often than whites.[71]

Drug use, especially alcohol, is frequently involved in rape. A study (only of rape victims that were female and reachable by phone) reported detailed findings related to tactics. In 47% of such rapes, both the victim and the perpetrator had been drinking. In 17%, only the perpetrator had been. 7% of the time, only the victim had been drinking. Rapes where neither the victim nor the perpetrator had been drinking were 29% of all rapes.[9] Contrary to widespread belief, rape outdoors is rare. Over two thirds of all rapes occur in someone’s home. 31% occur in the perpetrators’ homes, 27% in the victims’ homes and 10% in homes shared by the victim and perpetrator. 7% occur at parties, 7% in vehicles, 4% outdoors and 2% in bars.[9] From 2000-2005, 59% of rapes were not reported to law enforcement.[73][74] One factor relating to this is misconception that most rapes are committed by strangers.[75]

The most frequently cited research was conducted by Statistics Canada in 1992, which involved a national random sample of 12,300 women (Johnson and Sacco, 1995). The research found that over one in three women had experienced a sexual assault[dubious – discuss] and that only 6% of sexual assaults were reported to the police.[78]


The Australian Women’s Safety Survey conducted by the Bureau of Statistics in 1996 involved a random sample 6,300 women aged 18 and over. It produced incidence finding of 1.9 per cent for sexual assault in the previous 12 months. Known men accounted for over two-thirds of assailants (68%). Only 15% of the assaulted women in the sample reported to the police.[79]

United Kingdom

According to a news report on BBC One presented in 12 November 2007, there were 85,000 women raped in the UK in the previous year, equating to about 230 cases every day. According to that report one of every 200 women in the UK was raped in 2006. The report also showed that only 800 persons were convicted in rape crimes that same year.[80][81]


In Cambodia, rape is estimated by local and international NGOs to be common [82], but only a very small minority of these assaults are ever reported to authorities, due to the social stigma associated to being the victim of a sexual crime, and, in particular, to losing virginity before marriage (regardless of how this happened).[83] From November 2008 to November 2009, police had recorded 468 cases of rape, attempted rape and sexual harassment, a 2.4 percent increase over the previous year.[84] Breaking the Silence – Sexual Violence in Cambodia is a report produced by Amnesty International, and released in 2010, which examined the situation of sexual violence in Cambodia. The report found that, in the small minority of rapes which are reported, a very common response is for law-enforcement officials, including police and court staff, to arrange extralegal out-of-court ‘agreements’ between the victim and the perpetrator (or their families), in which the rapist pays a sum of money which is shared between the authorithies and the victm (and her family), after which the victim has to withdraw any criminal complaint against the perpetrator, and public prosecutors close the case. When a rape is investigated, a complainant is generally expected to pay an extralegal sum of money to the authorities, to ensure that the court investigates the case, othrerwise progress is slow, and it may take over two years for anything to happen. During the pre-trial period, there is allways a risk that the perpetrator’s family will pay a bribe to secure his acquittal or reduced charge.[85]

Democratic Republic of the Congo

In eastern Congo, the prevalence and intensity of rape and other sexual violence is described as the worst in the world.[86] It is estimated that there are as many as 200,000 surviving rape victims living in the Democratic Republic of the Congo today.[53][54] War rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo has frequently been described as a “weapon of war” by commentators. Louise Nzigire, a local social worker, states that “this violence was designed to exterminate the population.” Nzigire observes that rape has been a “cheap, simple weapon for all parties in the war, more easily obtainable than bullets or bombs.”



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