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A report by the South African Human Rights Commission found that the most severe crimes against children were committed at school—not only by pupils against each other, but also by teachers against pupils.
The commission learned that 40% of all children were assaulted with fists, machetes or guns, or were even victims of rape.
The act of “corrective rape” was also being committed against lesbians, as it is believed this will make the victims heterosexual again. Children play school games such as “rape me, rape me,” in which they pretend to rape each other—often resulting in actual sexual assaults being committed in school washrooms, empty classrooms, corridors and dormitories.
The Guardian newspaper reported that South Africa is the rape capital of the world, and that talk show host Oprah Winfrey said, “It is almost impossible for us to imagine the frequency in which these horrific crimes happen, not only to women, but also especially to children.”
Statistics released by The Times (London) reveal that each year more than one million women in South Africa are raped. “It is a fact that a woman born in South Africa has a greater chance of being raped, than learning how to read” (BBC).
As crime within the country continues to spiral out of control, the nation’s AIDS infection rate is also at its highest level ever, with rape a major contributing factor in spreading the virus. In Nelspruit, in the province of Mpumalanga, it is reported that 31% of the town’s population is infected; in certain rural areas, the infection rate is higher.
Even more disturbing: Prior to the year 2000, most rapes were committed against adults; since then, 65-70% of all South African rapes have been against children—with some as young as two weeks old, as a myth exists that sex with a virgin will cure AIDS.
Solutions to the problems children face are further hampered by school authorities who urge girls to keep quiet about the abuse they suffer, and who also urge their families not to alert the police, as this would draw unwanted publicity.