Youngest, oldest victims of rape
Three children, aged four, five and seven, were raped in the Western Cape yesterday, illustrating that the victims of sexual crimes are getting younger.
But the aged are also becoming more vulnerable to such crimes, a trend that worries provincial police commissioner General Arno Lamoer.
Speaking at the Cape Town Press Club, Lamoer said statistics pointed to the fact that those younger than 18 and older than 60 are increasingly falling victim to sexual abuse.
He used the example of a 93-year-old great-grandmother raped in KwaZulu-Natal and an 18-month-old raped in the Western Cape.
"As the police we can celebrate the decreases in crime, but what difference does it make to a baby girl of 18 months who was raped? Or a great-grandmother of 93 who was raped by two boys?
"We can talk about the decreases and the increase in crime statistics as long as we want to, but we have to speak about the victims of crime, too. How do we go back and change their perceptions of the area they stay in, the country they live in or the government that is supposed to serve them?" Lamoer said.
While police officers were trained to fight crime, they often had to don the hats of social worker, doctor and even midwife.
Lamoer said the police had called on the provincial department of social development to play a bigger role in fighting violence against children.
The police worked well with non-profit organisations such as Rape Crisis and the provincial department of community safety. But "interaction and cooperation with social development is not up to scratch, especially when it comes to violence against children".
While Rape Crisis was lauded for its sterling work in Cape Town, where it helped about 5000 women and men every year, it might have to shut because of severe funding constraints.
Lamoer said he was aware of the crisis at the organisation.
"We don't want to lose them as one of our partners. Our family violence, child protection and sexual offences unit works very closely with them. It is a concern for us," he said.