Platinum Belt’s silent struggle with sexual assault

“For many women, sexual violence has become part of their daily lives. Violence is routine.” Rosina Palai, Community Health Worker


Between November and December 2015, MSF conducted a household survey in Rustenburg Municipality. Women, aged 18 – 49 were randomly selected for participation and the survey was designed so that the findings would represent all women living in the area.

The survey aimed to: • Quantify the prevalence of rape • Describe the knowledge and perceptions of rape and intimate partner violence • Describe the awareness of and access to services and perceived barriers to accessing care

MSF received responses from more than 80% of eligible women, with over 800 women participating. Of women surveyed, only 30% had lived in Rustenburg since birth.

South African citizens comprised more than 90% of women, with others primarily hailing from neighboring countries in the region.

The survey gathered information about rape and physical intimate partner violence (P-IPV) with past partners, as well as non-partner rape. It also asked for detailed information about intimate partner violence (IPV) — sexual, physical and/or emotional — experienced with the participants’ current or most recent partners. Given the operational focus of MSF in providing emergency medical and psychosocial care to survivors of sexual violence, this section of the report only focuses on sexual and physical violence perpetrated against women.

49% of women reported experiences of at least one of the following: • Physical or sexual IPV • Rape by a non-partner

This may under-estimate actual lifetime experiences of sex and gender-based violence because it does not include emotional or non-rape sexual violence experienced with all sexual partners.

Rape Survey findings suggest that rape is highly prevalent in Rustenburg. One in four women surveyed had been raped in their lifetime. Extrapolating this statistic to the population level, approximately 50 000 women and girls in Rustenburg Local Municipality have experienced rape in their lifetime. Of those who had reported being raped, 40.5% of women stated they had been raped by a non-partner only, 28.2% by a sexual partner only and 31.2% had experienced rape by both a non-partner and sexual partner over the course of their lifetime.


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