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26 November 2010

10 steps for parents of a child rape survivor

We've been alarmed at the many news flashes of brutal child rape cases unfolding. Red Cross Children’s hospital treated 137 children under the age of 13 for rape last year alone.

South Africans have been alarmed at the many news flashes of brutal child rape cases unfolding.  The Red Cross Children’s hospital treated 137 children under the age of 13 for rape last year. Just last week the hospital treated a 5-year-old girl that had been viciously raped. She has already undergone three operations, says the Trauma Unit Head, Professor van As. South Africa is yet to discover the driver behind this carnage.

 The statistics

  1. It is only natural to want to wash the crime away. However, it is important to convince your child not to take a shower or bathe to wash off semen and blood.
  2. Also, try to prevent your child from using the toilet or changing clothes before reporting the rape. Your child’s body and clothes have become evidence that will assist police in finding the perpetrator. Your check-up will include evidence collection.
  3. Don't brush your hair because it may contain evidence.
  4. Do not brush your teeth if you have been forced to perform oral sex because there may be evidence.
  5. If your child does change clothes, do not put the evidence in a plastic bag. The heat in the bag can destroy biological material (semen, blood, saliva). Use a paper bag instead.
  6. Encourage your child to tell you about what happened. Make a note of names, dates, times, and locations. This will spare excessive questioning which can make a child feel that the adult does not believe him or her.  
  7. If you are the first person your daughter told about the rape, you are the first witness. You will have to make a statement to the police about your daughter’s physical condition and emotional state.
  8. It is important to bear in mind that you have a 72-hourwindow to report your child’s rape, if the child wants to lay a charge. Know that reporting the crime does not oblige you to appear in court. 
  9. The police will ask you to sign a form to consent to a medical examination by the District Surgeon. You can choose to be examined by a private doctor instead, but the doctor must be prepared to testify in court. Most GPs do not have rape training, and most doctors do not carry the J88 form, which, for purposes of prosecution, needs to be completed during an examination.
  10. It is important for you to seek counselling for your child and for yourself.  Even though you weren't the victim of rape, your child was and you will also have to deal with it.

 
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