Women's experiences of reporting rape to the police : a qualitative study

Du Plessis, Nina (2007-12)

Thesis (MA)--University of Stellenbosch, 2007.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The issue of rape in South Africa has been widely documented and debated in the form of academic, legal, governmental and media reports. The statistics that inform us both of the incidence of rape and the number of women who report rape to the police have been vehemently contested. Secondary victimization of rape survivors by police, medical and legal officials, has been reported internationally in studies conducted in the United Kingdom, the United States and South Africa. The present study explored 16 women’s experiences of reporting rape to the police in historically disadvantaged communities. Qualitative semi-structured interviews were aimed at eliciting information about the nature of their experiences with the police and how their complaints were responded to and dealt with by police personnel. Six categories and 18 themes emerged out of a grounded theory analysis performed on the data. All of the participants were reportedly dissatisfied with the manner in which they were treated or the way in which their cases were handled by the South African Police Service (SAPS). The results implied the existence of rape myths in police official’s attitudes towards rape survivors, and the need to create awareness around the rights of rape survivors who report rape to the police, as well as to educate police officers with regards to the sensitivity of the issue of rape. Keywords: rape myths; secondary victimization; police; survivors; criminal justice system; feminism; gender relations; rape in South Africa.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die onderwerp van verkragting in Suid-Afrika is deuglik debateer en dokumenteer deur middel van akademiese, wetlike, regeering en media verslagte. Die statistieke wat ons in kennis stel van die aantal insidente van verkragtings en die aantal vrouens wat verkragting reporteer is gedurig in ‘n vurige en teenstrydige toestand. Sekondêre viktimisering van verkragting oorlewendes deur die polisie, mediese en wetlike amptenare, is geraporteer op internasionale vlak in studies wat gedoen is in die Verenigde Koningkryk, die Verenigde State en Suid-Afrika. Hierdie studie dek die ervarings van 16 vrouens, vanuit historiese agtergeblewe gemeenskappe, se raportering van verkragting aan die polisie. Kwalitatiewe semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude is gemik daarop om inligting tot die lig te bring oor die natuur van hul ervaringe met die polisie, hoe daar op hul aanklagte reaggeer is en hoe die polisie dit hanteer het. Ses katogorieë en 18 temas was die resultaat vanuit ‘n gegronde teorie analisie wat gedoen is op die data. Al die vrouens was ongelukkig met die manier waarop hul beweerde behandeling, of oor hul sake hanteer was deur die Suid-Afrikaanse Polisie Diens (SAPD). Die resultate het gewys op die bestaan van verkragtingsmites in polisie amptenare se houding teenoor die verkragting oorlewendes, en die behoefte om ‘n bewustheid te skep oor die regte van verkraging oorlewendes wat verkragting raporteer aan die polisie, as ook om polisie offisiere te onderrig ten opsigte van sensitiwiteit teenoor die saak van verkragting. Sleutelwoorde: verkragtingsmites; sekondêre viktimisasie; polisie; oorlewendes; kriminele justisie sisteem; feminisme; geslagsverhoudings; verkragting in Suid- Afrika.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/21614
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