There are no proper words to describe the horror of rape. The victims, regardless of gender, are left marred by its occurrence and quite honestly are less trusting of others. Also, there are ethical debates on the offspring of the abominable act, as well as the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
In different countries around the world, research has shown that women are highly susceptible to being raped. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, 24,923 rape cases were reported in India. Also, in 2010, the Swedish police recorded the highest number of offences – about 63 per 100,000 inhabitants.
Young women are especially at risk – 82 percent of all juvenile victims are female, 90 percent of adult rape victims are female.
In light of the horrifying figures, our attention has been drawn to another case in the South African city of Johannesburg and the new means that is exploited by sexual predators to rape unsuspecting victims.
After the first claims of “rape taxi” were reported in April 2016, the victims claimed that the perpetrators were three men in a white Toyota Quantum minibus. Similarly, between the months of July and August 2016, there were three reported cases of rape in taxis. In one of the cases, a victim was assaulted by men hiding in the boot of the vehicle she had boarded.
Now, more women are coming out to state their cases after another woman was reportedly raped and robbed in a white Toyota Quantum minibus in the presence of her 10-year-old son.
The four-hour ordeal occurred while the victim and her son, as Rianne van Zyl of the Roodepoort Record describes it, tried to board a taxi to Westgate in Johannesburg on Ontdekkers Road. When they entered the taxi there were three men inside. As they drove off the men allegedly raped the woman and robbed her. They then drove around Dobsonville and other parts of Soweto and withdrew money from her account at various ATMs.
Two other women have talked to local media in South Africa, describing their ordeals. In an interview granted to Kaya FM, one of the women warned other female commuters to be wary when boarding vehicles and travelling alone after she had been allegedly raped by three men in a Toyota Quantum taxi.
She added that she was then dumped at a veld in Dube, Soweto where she got help from a man who told her she was the third victim he had helped.
For most South Africans, the knowledge of rape and sexual offences comes from a very young age. Sexual abuse no longer has the connotation of taboo among individuals as Rebecca Davis Guardian 2016 article “How rape became South Africa’s enduring nightmare” rightly explains – Sexual abuse has become normalised, she writes. The situation has been worsened by social norms like “taxi queens” – young girls who use transactional sex to pay for transport fares.
A history of violence has bred a masculinity that requires men to show dominance when it comes to sexual favours, while for women a history of relegation has bred fear as acceptance for this barbaric act.
What is really sad is that South Africa is home to a ton of sexually progressive initiatives aimed at empowering young girls and women led by both the government and celebrities alike, yet it all seems to be for show.
In South Africa, many campaigns to raise awareness of sexual abuse have run with slogans like “South Africa is the rape capital of the world” and “A rape is reported every 4 minutes”. These statements may be factually incorrect, however, it is key to note that not every crime would be reported because of fear and stigma, yet framing the debate like in such slogans goes to show how deeply rooted the crime of rape is. Under Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act 32 of 2007, rape is defined as a criminal offence in South Africa.
In respect of the latest rape case, women have been advised to be particular about their modes of transportation. Gauteng Community Safety Member of Executive Council, Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane said that an investigation is ongoing and there is a manhunt for the rapists.
Taxi associations are also helping with the investigation.
“We managed to secure some description of the perpetrators. Based on that information we will be able to effect some arrest”, Nkosi-Malobane added.