Women’s Month 2016: What to do if you are raped

What is rape?

Forced sexual penetration of a person’s (male or female) genital organs, anus, mouth, or any other part of the body with a penis or an object that can be used for sexual penetration.

Who can be raped?

Any person of any age: this includes lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex persons, as well as men and women.

Who can commit a rape?

It can be anyone: a stranger, a friend, a family member, someone you know, a boyfriend/girlfriend or husband/wife or partner, or a group of people.

What should you do if you are raped?

Find a safe place and tell the first person who you trust what happened, especially if you need medical attention.

If you want to report the matter (but you don’t have to)

1. Go to the police station as soon as possible. If the police do not allow you to report the rape, DO NOT GIVE UP. You have a right to report the rape, so speak to the Station Commander, or go to another police station. Later on, you can make a complaint against the police officer that didn’t help you.
2. If you are hurt, first go to the hospital or doctor. Tell the doctor that you were raped so that you can get appropriate treatment. The police must also take you to the hospital so they can collect evidence left on your body/clothes.
3. If you want to report the matter to the police, then it is best not to shower/bath before you have been examined by a doctor. Do not throw away or wash the clothes you were wearing, as it is evidence of the crime.
4. If you change your clothes, keep the clothes you were wearing when the rape happened in a paper bag or wrap them in newspaper. Do not put them in a plastic packet as this can destroy evidence.
5. Do not eat or drink anything or take any medication before the doctor examines you. If you did, it is important that you tell the doctor who examines you what you have eaten or what medication you have taken.

Get the following from a doctor (even if you do not report the rape to the police)

1. An HIV test and Anti-Retroviral Treatment within 72 hours to prevent HIV infection. This treatment is called Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP).
You must go back to the doctor for further HIV tests and take tablets every 28 days so that the treatment works properly.
You can ask that your rapist be tested for HIV/AIDS and that this status be disclosed to you.
2. Antibiotics to prevent you from getting Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).
3. Morning-after pill to prevent pregnancy.
4. Clear instructions on how and when to take the different medications.
5. Referrals for support and counselling.

This post was developed as an informative tool for women. Please visit your nearest LRC office for further advice and assistance. Written by Sally Hurt

Published by


The Legal Resources Centre is a public interest law clinic established in South Africa in 1979

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s