By Natasha Joseph
Tik is "changing the nature" of rapes in the Western Cape with growing numbers of young rapists and victims and a "definite increase in brutality" through the past three years.
The director of the Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust,
Kathleen Dey, says tik, a methamphetamine and one of the most commonly abused drugs in the Western Cape, is often used by young people and the age of rapists and their victims has been dropping in the province.
"Eleven, 12, 13-year-olds are doing terrible things to each other," Dey said.
About 4 000 rapes were reported to police in the Western Cape in the 12 months to March 31 2008. It was impossible to tell, however, whether the perpetrators were under the influence of tik, other drugs or alcohol.
Police spokesperson Bernadine Steyn said incidents were recorded in the police database only "according to the action itself". The database "did not make provision" for whether the assailant was under the influence of drugs of alcohol.
A South African Medical Research Council (MRC) fact sheet about tik describes the common effects of the drug as "euphoria, increased energy and self-confidence, insomnia, restlessness, irritability, heightened sense of sexuality, and tremors".
Dey said children as young as 11 were using tik, and this meant they were living "intense, visceral, moment-to-moment lives".
The Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust has three offices, in Khayelitsha, Observatory and Athlone.
Dey said each office handled between 15 and 25 new cases a month and clients included a "high teenage population" of girls aged 14 and older.
Teenage girls at school were at risk of being raped by youths who had dropped out of or left school and knew "the layout, the routines" of particular schools, Dey said.
"Sexual bullying" was also a problem at schools, she said.
"It's always present, an undercurrent… (even) slightly physical intimidation can be devestating."
A recent study carried out by the MRC, the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, and the Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre to End Violence Against Women found that "penetration may actually be more forceful in rape in South Africa, with 57,5 percent of cases (in the study) resulting in an ano-genital injury".
"This is a higher proportion of such injury than has been found in studies conducted in the developed world," the researchers said in the report.
One in three of the rapes examined in the study, which focused on Gauteng, involved the use or display of a weapon.
Weapons used or displayed during rapes included guns, knives, pangas, tools, sharp or blunt objects, rope and wire.
Physical force – kicking, pushing, shoving, strangulation, slapping and hitting – was reported in more than half of the cases examined in the study.
This article was originally published on page 4 of Cape Times on December 04, 2008