For the last decade, international headlines have called attention to a "rape crisis" in South Africa. According to Naeema Abrahams and Rachel Jewkes, a 1995 Human Rights Watch report dubbed South Africa the "rape capital of the world," a phrase that has reverberated in national and international newsrooms ever since. Reported rapes doubled from 1994 to 1998 and remain consistently high. Perhaps understandably, President Thabo Mbeki and African National Congress (ANC) political leaders have reacted defensively to these headlines. Mbeki believes that the media descriptions of rape are unhopeful and unpatriotic, threatening the success of the new democracy as a whole. As a result, when feminists and women's rights activists have called attention to rape, President Mbeki has called them racist. In 2000, the government even put a moratorium on the release of reported crime statistics, causing the public and the press to erupt with claims that the government was covering up the reality of escalating crime in South Africa.
Kristina S. Baehr,
Mandatory Minimums Making Minimal Difference: Ten Years of Sentencing Sex Offenders in South Africa,
Yale J.L. & Feminism
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/yjlf/vol20/iss1/8