Act against abuse

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pretoria - The horrifying gang rape of a school girl at a Johannesburg school brings to the fore the urgent need to deal with the horrendous crime of rape and abuse against women and children in the country.

This according to Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities Minister, Lulu Xingwana, after her visit to the alleged rape victim on Monday.

Xingwana said the issue of abuse against women and children is a key priority for her department and plans are being finalised to mobilise South Africans to act against all forms of abuse.

"It is encouraging that medical and social work services were provided to assist this 15 year-old girl. The allegation that some teachers learnt of this incident and did not take appropriate action is most disturbing and it is in violation of the law," she said.

The Children's Act requires all people in positions of authority, who suspect that child abuse may be taking place, to report such incidents.

The Department of Education is currently investigating this claim.

Police have since arrested two boys who allegedly drugged and gang raped the school girl inside the high school premises last Thursday.

Xingwana said the availability of the so-called date rape drug (Rohypnol) to young people is also of grave concern to her ministry.

The drug is classified as a schedule six tablet, and can only be obtained with a prescription mainly as a sleeping tablet.

"As we move towards the festive season, we have to ensure that young girls do not fall victim to rape because of this drug. We need to increase awareness about the risks... and protect young women," she said.

In two weeks, the Minister said they will be launching the 16 Days of Activism Campaign on No Violence Against Women and Children.

She urged people to report acts of violence to the relevant authorities.