Solace for a rape victim: promotion to a higher grade

10 August 2012 - 02:28 By KATHARINE CHILD
The 13 year girl from King Williams Town who was allegedly lured into the ugly world of teen prostitution is in slow recovery process after breaking the silence about her horrid ordeal. Photo: MARK ANDREWS 24/3/2011 © Daily Dispatch
The 13 year girl from King Williams Town who was allegedly lured into the ugly world of teen prostitution is in slow recovery process after breaking the silence about her horrid ordeal. Photo: MARK ANDREWS 24/3/2011 © Daily Dispatch
Image: Mark Andrews

A 12-year-old Johannesburg girl was lured into her teacher's car after school, taken to his house and drugged before being raped.

She woke up a few streets away from her house, in a township, but did not report the ordeal to her parents.

In the few months that followed, she became ill and doctors at a hospital discovered she had been raped

The school's response to discovering one of its pupils had been raped was to move her up a grade and make her a class prefect. Nothing happened to the teacher.

This is the story Wits law professor Bonita Meyersfeld told about 100 pupils from Roedean School who spent Women's Day morning walking from their Houghton, Johannesburg, school to the women's prison at Constitution Hill.

There they handed over a memorandum against abuse of women to Meyersfeld.

The girls had also raised money for the newly formed Lawyers Against Abuse, of which Meyersfeld is the chair. The non-governmental organisation offers free legal help to victims of sexual violence.

"Legal aid is only for suspects. This leaves victims [who can't afford a lawyer] withnowhere to go," said Meyersfeld.

After handing over the memorandum, the pupils took part in a discussion with Judge Edwin Cameron, Wits education professor Mary Metcalfe and law professor Lilian Chenwi, advocate Gilbert Marcus SC and Professor Rachel Jewkes, head of the Medical Research Council's gender and health research unit.

Cameron, a patron of the NGO, praised Meyersfeld for the work she was doing.

He said the level of gender violence in South Africa could emulate the declining murder rate and drop: "We don't need to despair. The murder rate has fallen by half. It was 15900 in 2011 but 29000 in 1994."

Metcalfe said gender violence had become "extreme and particular". She was not aware of exact statistics of school violence, but media reports and those from Meyersfeld showed it was a problem.

Meyersfeld said it took six lawyers six months to help the 12-year-old as her case docket had been closed by police, who said the case was reported months after the incident. After Lawyers Against Abuse intervened, the teacher was fired last week. The pupil has changed schools.

Gauteng education spokesman Charles Phahlane urged victims of sexual assault to report it.

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