allAfrica.com: Africa: Why It Is Wrong to Call S. Africa or Any Country the 'Rape Capital of the World' (Page 1 of 4)
…To make a fair comparison of the prevalence of rape in different countries, it would be necessary to compare like with like. However, differing legal definitions of rape, under-reporting of rape and sexual assault, and different recording methods hamper international comparisons. A number of these difficulties were highlighted in a recent Foreign Policy article and in previous Africa Check reports on crime.
The first stumbling block is that legal definitions of rape differ from country to country.
South African law states that any person who unlawfully and intentionally commits an act of sexual penetration with another person without consent is guilty of the offence of rape. Because of this broad definition, South African law recognises the rape of men and boys. Many other countries, such as India and Singapore do not.
And in South Africa spousal rape is a crime at any age, but in India it is not illegal unless the woman is younger than fifteen, while in Singapore a man is only guilty of marital rape if his wife is living away from him.
Different definitions of rape mean any international rankings will be fundamentally flawed.
Rape offences are counted differently
In addition to different definitions, countries have different methods of counting and recording rape.
In the United Kingdom, for example, if two men push a woman into a bedroom and both rape her, it will count as one crime with the offenders acting together.
However, in South Africa, each act of penetration is a separate crime. “The law is very straight when it comes to counting rapes. Each and every penetration should count as a rape,” Chris de Kock, a crime analyst, consultant and retired South African police major-general, told Africa Check.
In effect this means that the number of rapes recorded in some countries is based on the number of victims and in the others on the number of criminal acts committed.
Under-reporting rates are unknown For comparisons to be valid, the countries would also have to have similar levels of the reporting of rape.
It is an accepted fact in most countries that rape statistics are not an accurate reflection of the actual number of rapes that take place. A large proportion of rapes go unreported.
But the rate of under-reporting varies from country to country.
Recently the UK Statistics Authority stripped UK police statistics of their official status, following claims that the Metropolitan police had been under-reporting sexual offences by as much as 25 percent.n South Africa, a study in 2010 by Gender Links and the Medical Research Council found that in South Africa’s Gauteng province only one in 13 women reported non-partner rape and overall only one in 25 rapes had been reported to the police.
Given these variables “no international comparisons will be accurate,” Lizette Lancaster, manager of the Institute for Security Studies crime and justice hub, told Africa Check.