30 child rapes in two weeks

Sexual assault, GBV, housebreaking dominate crime reports

02 October 2019 | Crime

Nearly 60% of the 51 rape cases reported to the police during the last two weeks of September involved minors, including children younger than ten years.

In many cases, the suspects are related to or known to the complainants, often living in the same houses and with many opportunities to assault the child or teenager.

In the week of 16 to 22 September, 23 rape cases were reported to the police, of which 15 (65.2%) involved minor complainants, NamPol Commissioner Nelius Becker, who heads the national Criminal Investigations Directorate, said yesterday. Of the 15 cases involving minors, five complainants were under the age of ten. Twelve suspects were arrested on charges of rape involving minors that week.

In the week of 23 to 29 September, 28 rape cases were reported, involving 15 (53.6%) minor complainants, most of whom were 15 or younger. Thirteen suspects were arrested on charges of raping a minor.

Becker said the most prevalent serious crime, according to statistics, is assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. Rape is the second most prevalent crime reported, followed by housebreaking and theft. “That gives you an idea of how serious the problem is,” he said.

Becker warned that in many child-rape cases, the suspects are fathers, uncles or other people closely related to the victim.

He said the 30 cases of rape involving minors reported over the past two weeks give a clear indication of the pervasiveness of the problem in Namibia.





Epidemic

Experts working with rape survivors recently described the high number of sexual assaults of children and teenagers in Namibia as “an epidemic”.

Becker yesterday confirmed that the police have begun to issue weekly crime reports exclusively focusing on arrests of suspects accused of raping minors, which include photographs of the suspects.

The first of these reports was issued on Monday and included photographs of the suspects, details of the crimes they are accused of and the status of their court cases.

Of the four suspects named in Monday's report, not one has been granted bail and all remain in custody awaiting their next court appearance.

One of these suspects, a 26-year-old man, was arrested on charges of rape, incest, assault and kidnapping of his 14-year-old sister, who is now pregnant, allegedly with his child.

He allegedly started raping the girl in 2012, when she was seven, and the abuse only ended when he was arrested last month.

Over the weekend, the police confirmed the arrest of a 61-year-old man accused of raping his daughter, who is younger than 15. She is also now pregnant.

Becker warned communities, families and parents to be on alert and to realise that in many cases children or teenagers are raped “by persons known to them; persons they trust.”

He also pointed out a recent case in which a pastor was accused of raping a minor over a period of time, saying that illustrated how the crime of rape permeates all sectors of Namibian society.

This week's police bulletin also reported the arrest of a 22-year-old man who is accused of raping a 12-year-old boy.

Becker added that the police have reached out to the prosecutor-general's office with relevant statistics on rape cases, in an effort to strengthen arguments by prosecutors and to ensure stiffer prison terms for perpetrators.

He said heavier sentences are one of the ways to “stamp this out”.



Staggering statistics

In September, Namibian Sun reported that 2 598 cases of rape had been reported to the Namibian police over the last two-and-a-half years. Of these cases, 1 176 (45.3%) involved minors.

Experts working with rape survivors and gender-based violence advocates have repeatedly warned that the cases of rape reported to police are likely just the tip of the iceberg.

“Rape in Namibia is definitely a crisis and must be declared as such,” Charlemaine Husselmann of Lifeline/Childline told Namibian Sun last month.

She added that “the act of rape is one of power and violation,” noting that those who target children and teenagers often view them as “weak and easy to manipulate”.

James Itana of Regain Trust Namibia stressed the problem would not cease unless the core issues were tackled.

“We live in a society where we've socialised men to believe they are entitled to the bodies of women and girls. What we are really dealing with is an issue of power and entitlement, which is reinforced through our cultural and religious beliefs.”

Itana said it's also time for men to speak up.

“Not all men are perpetrators of violence against women and children. Yet most of us men are quiet and do not hold other men accountable.”

[email protected]

JANA-MARI SMITH