JHB’s mayor shares debunked and flawed SA rape data

By senior researcher Cayley Clifford

As South Africa proceeds to grapple with gender-dependent violence, the City of Johannesburg’s mayor, Geoff Makhubo, took to Twitter to share startling figures about sexual violence.

“SA has been confirmed to be the rape funds in the globe,” he tweeted to his approximately 20,000 followers in April 2021. The post captivated far more than 10,000 reactions, such as 4,300 shares.

Makhubo also claimed that women born in South Africa experienced a larger opportunity of staying raped than discovering to read through. This, he explained, was according to Interpol, the Worldwide Legal Law enforcement Business.

“We can’t fake like all is well,” he concluded, and that could perfectly be true. But any tries to attract consideration to urgent difficulties really should be centered on accurate info.

LABELING Nations around the world ‘RAPE CAPITALS’ FLAWED

Claims that South Africa is the “rape capital” of the world have circulated on the web for above two many years. The ranking has commonly been attributed to Interpol, but the intercontinental agency has denied earning the assert. It earlier told Africa Verify that “false studies have been recurring by several media without the need of verification”.

South Africa’s police recorded 42,289 circumstances of rape in 2019/20. To make a reasonable comparison with other international locations, we need to have to look at like with like. But legal definitions of rape vary from nation to nation.

In South Africa, any particular person who unlawfully and deliberately commits an act of sexual penetration with a further human being devoid of consent is guilty of the offence of rape.

In numerous other international locations, the legislation only recognises rape versus women or does not recognise spousal rape. Nations around the world also have different strategies of counting and recording rape, earning rankings hard.

Underreporting is a 3rd stumbling block. It’s very well recognised that the rape studies collected by the law enforcement are not an accurate reflection of the true number of rapes that take place. But a lot of nations, which include South Africa, do not have recent and nationally agent underreporting rates.

Presented these variables “no global comparisons will be accurate”, Lizette Lancaster, supervisor of the Institute for Protection Experiments criminal offense and justice hub, beforehand told Africa Check out. This means any claim of a nation getting a “rape capital” is flawed.


Makhubo also claimed that a girl born in South Africa has “a increased likelihood of currently being raped than studying to read”. This statement also has a extensive on line heritage, dating back again to 2002.

In 2010, Tom Moultrie, professor of demography at the University of Cape Town, debunked the assert. He explained it as a “statistical horror”.

Making use of data from the 1998 Demographic Well being Study, Moultrie showed that the claim was incorrect. He reported that 93.1% of South African females aged 15 to 49 experienced learned to study. If the declare have been suitable, it would suggest much more than 93% of South African gals would be raped in their life time.

In accordance to the survey, 4.4% of ladies aged 15 to 49 had been “forced to have sex” in their life span. This is the latest nationwide estimate.

The Demographic Health Survey was conducted yet again in 2016 but did not consist of a query on regardless of whether girls had been pressured to have sex. The study approximated that 96.3% of women aged 15 to 49 were literate.

‘GOOD High quality STATISTICS’ Needed

“You really do not want to have any figures to be concerned about rape. The point that it happens is adequate to warrant action,” gender-primarily based violence researcher Lisa Vetten advised Africa Test.

“When you start out saying that we are the ‘rape capital of the world’ or that rape is escalating, then you are making statements that are underpinned by quantities,” she claimed. “And you will have to assistance these promises with good excellent figures.”

This report appeared on AfricaCheck.org, a non-partisan organisation which promotes precision in community discussion and the media. Adhere to them on Twitter: @AfricaCheck

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