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A bizarre belief among many African black men that sex with a virgin — even a child or baby — can cure HIV/AIDS is fueling what is already one of the highest child sexual exploitation rates in the world.
According to the latest report by South Africa’s Police Service, children are the victims of 41 percent of all rapes and attempted rapes reported in the country. Over 15 percent of all reported rapes are against children under 11, and another 26 percent against children 12-17. For the year 2000, some 58 children were raped or the victims of rape attempts in South Africa every single day.
The trend is worsening. Babies as young as only a few months old are being raped almost daily. Many black South African men infected with AIDS erroneously believe that by having sex with a virgin — even a baby — they will be cured of AIDS or their HIV infection.
South African police statistics show that last year alone, 21,538 rapes and attempted rapes of children under the age of 18 were reported. The KwaZulu-Natal province, which includes Durban, where concern has already been expressed over the sharp rise in child abuse cases, was top of the list with 4,797 reported cases in 2000, followed by Gauteng province (formerly Transvaal, which includes Johannesburg) with 4,316.
For the first six months of 2001, some 10,242 cases were reported, and once again KwaZulu-Natal recorded the highest figure with 2,236, followed by Gauteng with 2,076.
This level of crime contrasts with 1994, for example, when a total of 7,559 cases were reported – about one third of the current level. The figure increased dramatically over the next three years and in 1997 stood at 15,336.
It is believed that a large percentage of incidents go unreported, and police have launched extensive campaigns to inform women and children of their rights.
Police said research conducted over the past five years indicated that in 83 percent of sexual abuse cases, the perpetrators were known to their victims.
“This story has been largely ignored by the mainstream media in the United States and the Western world, in order to perpetuate the Mandela myth of the wonderful New South Africa,” said former Republic of South Africa military intelligence officer Koos Ven der Merwe.
And Debbie Coetzee, a South African police detective who specializes in rape cases told WND the situation for babies in South Africa will probably “get worse before it gets better.”
“Did you ever read ‘Heart of Darkness’? she asked. “Well, we are way beyond that point and well on our way towards barbarism. Abortion, pornography, filthy TV shows and movies, lack of respect for women and children, coddling criminals and rapists, these have all contributed to this crisis.”
Durban resident Marilyn Kemp described baby rape as a horrible problem that South Africans must begin to address. “Though people feel strongly about it nothing still is being done to deter these men — their sentences are light,” she said. “I feel that only international publicity and fervent prayer will bring some results.”
The incidents of baby rape in South Africa are truly horrifying. Reports by the South African Press Association contain items such as these:
- On Nov. 11, a nine-month-old baby girl from Kimberley in the Northern Cape who survived a gang rape underwent a full hysterectomy and will require further surgery to repair intestinal damage, a hospital spokesperson said. The baby from Louisville was left unattended by her 16-year-old mother when six Upington men allegedly raped her. The baby had undergone a full hysterectomy and she suffered extensive damage to her colon and anus as well The six men, aged between 22 and 66, appeared in the Kimberley Magistrates Court on charges of rape and indecent assault on Monday.
- This past Halloween, on October 31, a month-old baby girl was raped, allegedly by her uncles, in Tweeling in the Eastern Free State Police spokesperson Loraine Kalp said the mother of the child had left the baby in the care of the men when she went to visit her mother-in-law. Upon her return last night, she found the baby crying and as she lifted her, she saw blood on her bottom. She then took the baby to a clinic where she was told the girl had been raped and sustained vaginal damage. In other reported cases, rapists have gone beyond penile penetration, using objects including broken bottle tops, sticks or harmful liquids that are pushed or inserted into the victim’s vagina. But police now say these brutal criminals are sure to be arrested and positively linked to their crimes.
AIDS babies in garbage dump
Equally shocking is the growing phenomenon of black babies with AIDS being thrown away in dumps around the nation, say South Africa police intelligence officials.
South African social worker Fiona Brophy says she has had enough, and that she plans to spend five days living inside a black plastic garbage bag atop the rotting rubbish dump at the Athlone refuse transfer station to draw international attention to the terrifying and growing problem. Brophy will live inside a black plastic bag day and night without even basic amenities, say reports in the South African media.
Brophy wants to create awareness of the huge number of newborn babies dumped in rubbish bins or abandoned in desolate spots, and to help raise funds for a community-based home for AIDS orphans.
“I want to express solidarity with all those tiny children who never had a chance to live in this world, and to make all those desperate mothers aware that there are alternatives to dumping babies,” she told SAPA, the South African Press Association.
Brophy, who works at Little Angels, a non-profit organization for abandoned babies and AIDS orphans, said it was the chilling death statistics found in forensic units — like “female infant, full-term in black plastic bag, discovered next to container” — that had prompted her to take action.
“Many of these babies can be saved and have thrived in the past with the right love and care,” she said.
Brophy told the South African Press Association she became aware of the plight of abandoned babies when she started working at Little Angels, the home of Phillip and Pat van Rensburg who have cared for more than 70 abused, abandoned or HIV-positive babies since 1997.
“I was so touched by the babies, even though some were there for such a short time. I started thinking of the ones who don’t make it,” said Brophy, who hopes to raise one million rand to support them with her dump demonstration.
The Renburgs told SAPA they believe that people should leave their unwanted babies at police stations, hospitals, welfare agencies, or contact Little Angels.