Here’s what to do when you are part of SA's rape statistics.
Rape is among the evilest crimes known to humankind. Here’s what to do when you are part of SA’s rape statistics.
“I died. My soul was stripped bare. There’s nothing left inside of me…” such was the narration of my rape patient. Unfortunately, this was not an isolated case, but rather one out of approximately 40,035 reported rape cases between 1 April 2017 and March 2018. These stats are according to South Africa’s crime statistics for 2018 as compiled by the South African Police Service and Stats SA.
I, however, don’t want this to be another sensational rape post or one that is filled with distant stats. That’s because rape is, unfortunately, a reality in our country that both men and women know too well. Children, the elderly, disabled and mentally challenged are unfortunately also not exempt from this great social ill.
Top tips to follow after being raped
Time and time again, I have heard rape patients look me in the eye and describe it as none other than death. It was portrayed as more than a physical violation, but an act so tragic, something inside the rape victims died.
What is even more disturbing is how not knowing what to do after being raped could contribute towards the perpetrator walking away due to a lack of evidence. It, therefore, becomes essential to follow these tips after you – or someone you know – is raped.
- Don’t bath or change your clothes as this may destroy vital evidence needed in your case.
- If possible, don’t go to the toilet or brush your teeth until a medical examination.
- Don’t consume alcohol as this could influence the outcome of your medical examination.
- Contact a friend/family/someone you trust for emotional support.
- Report it to the police who will ask you to do a medical examination.
- Consult a doctor. Ask if they are willing to testify in court. If the clinic/doctor is your first point of contact, ask them to contact the police.
- Get counselling.
What exactly happens during the medical examination?
As a medical doctor, I am often asked about what happens at a rape medical examination. This is your opportunity to provide as much detail as possible about the incident to the medical practitioner examining you. Relay even the seemingly insignificant details. Don’t hold back.
The doctor needs to complete a rape kit. This includes, but is not limited to noting your injuries and collecting evidence such as scrapings under fingernails, evidence of sperm from your vagina and looking for possible DNA. You have the right to request a female and to bring along someone you love and trust to support you.
Why you must immediately get medical treatment
Upon doing an HIV test – and within 72 hours of penetration, attempted penetration, oral sex, or anal sex – your doctor will prescribe antiretrovirals (ARVs) to reduce the possibility of contracting HIV. Your doctor may also prescribe medicines to prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and further infections such as hepatitis, and unwanted pregnancy.
Also, doctors may ask for your clothes and other evidence which will be sealed in a paper and collected as evidence to be added into a special police crime kit. Please double check that this is collected in a paper bag and not plastic bags. This is because plastic bags may cause degradation of biological material (such as semen) as a result of the heat in the bag.
Even when things seem to fall apart, there is still a way out
If you are unhappy with the police investigation of your case, you may complain to the Independent Complaints Directorate at +2712 392 0400. If you are unhappy with the treatment given to you by the Courts, telephone the office of the National Director of Public Prosecutions in Pretoria at +2712 317 5000 or +2712 317 5784 and ask for the Sexual Offences Unit.
You can also reach out to Lifeline for 24-hour counselling by calling +2711 422 4242 or 0861 322 322. You also have the option to email firstname.lastname@example.org to get assistance and start your journey towards recovery. You are never helpless. There are people who long to walk this journey with you, if only you will reach out.
Contact U-Care Medical Centre without delay if you need urgent medical assistance. Alternatively, you can also contact your nearest clinic, hospital or the police who will put you in touch with medical assistance. Whatever you do, there is no need to go at it alone. I am truly sorry for your ordeal and ask, beg and plead with you to please, please reach out.
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