Rape victims in Swaziland say their plight is not being treated seriously by police and often they are simply dropped off at hospital and made to find their own help.
This comes at a time when there have been 1,082 rapes reported in Swaziland since 2015. Swaziland is said to have the fourth highest rate of rape in the world.
The trauma associated with reporting a rape case is causing some people to turn back and deal with their ordeal on their own, local media reported.
A nurse at the Raleigh Fitkin Memorial Hospital told the Sunday Observer newspaper in Swaziland (2 July 2017). ‘Children, even adults, leave after waiting for assistance for hours and I cannot say I blame them.’
The newspaper detailed one rape victim who reported her case to police and was taken to hospital wo hours later.
The newspaper reported, ‘On arrival, she was dropped off at the emergency gate from whence she had to find her way through the hospital after the police pointed her to the general direction.’
Not knowing the correct procedure she waited in line to be examined by a nurse. The Observer reported, ‘In the midst of the patients waiting to see nurses was a schoolgirl, in full uniform, dirty and beaten up, also an alleged survivor of sexual assault. It was only after several hours of waiting, in her bloody and mud caked clothes that the survivor was assisted and taken to the Gender Based Violence (GBV) Unit ,which was recently constructed.’
A teacher at a primary school in the outskirts of Manzini told the newspaper she had assisted a pupil who had been attacked on her way to school and took her to hospital. ‘The process of getting the rape reported is traumatising the survivors,’ the teacher said. ‘The confusion and helplessness that comes with such violation is further confounded by the process that it takes for one to get assistance.’
The teacher added, ‘On reaching the hospital, having secured transport on a taxi, we were told to go to the police station first in order to enable her to be attended as assault and rape cases only get attention after being reported to the police.’ She said they were sent from one police post to another and finally had to wait two hours before being taken to hospital.
The teacher said, ‘If the experience was this traumatic for me as a person assisting, how much more those who go to the police without assistance and get haphazard reception?’
According to the National Commissioner of Police Isaac Magagula 1,082 rape cases were reported in Swaziland since 2015. He told a gender based violence campaign organised by the Catholic Church Commission for Justice and Peace (Caritas) in Hlatikulu on 1 July 2017 rape could be tackled by doing away with apathy and the culture of silence which fuelled such crimes.
Rape is common in Swaziland and often goes unreported. Rape of a wife by her husband is legal in Swaziland under Indigenous Swazi Law and Custom. A man can also legally rape his lover. This is contained in a document called The Indigenous Law and Custom of the Kingdom of Swaziland (2013) compiled by Professor Frances Pieter Whelpton, a Professor of Law at the University of South Africa and delivered to King Mswati III.
The Times of Swaziland reported (3 August 2016) , ‘Under Chapter 7, which addresses offences (emacala) in Swaziland, rape is said to be committed only if the woman forced is not the man’s wife or lover.’
In 2015, a report from A US organisation ABCNewspoint stated that Swaziland had the fourth highest rate of rape in the world. It said there were 77.5 registered cases of rape among 100,000 people.
Rape and sexual abuse of children is common in Swaziland. In 2008, Unicef reported that one in three girls in Swaziland were sexually abused, usually by a family member and often by their own fathers - 75 percent of the perpetrators of sexual violence were known to the victim.
Many men in Swaziland believed was all right to rape children if their own wives were not giving them enough sex. In 2009, men who were interviewed during the making of the State of the Swaziland Population report said they ‘“salivate” over children wearing skimpy dress codes because they are sexually starved in their homes.’
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