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Spectator Index‏ very wrong on South Africa’s rape rate

This article is more than 7 years old

A recent tweet by an account called The Spectator Index suggests that South Africa has one of the highest rape rates in the world.

Citing the United Nations, the account tweeted to 662,000 followers that South Africa had a reported rape rate of 132 per 100,000 people in 2015. It has been retweeted over 650 times so far.

The “rape rate” - how many rapes are reported per 100,000 people - is useful for comparing changes over time, as it allows you to make fair comparisons between different population sizes.

The number doesn’t line up with official crime statistics released by the South African Police Service for 2015/16, though. That year 42,596 rapes were reported to the police which works out to 77 rapes per 100,000 people - nearly half the rate tweeted by The Spectator Index.


It’s unclear where The Spectator Index sourced their figures from. We asked them to provide a link to their source but did not receive a response.

The latest rape statistics from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime were updated in April 2015 but they only contain data up until 2014. South Africa is not included.

Comparisons of rape rates are hampered by a number of issues, as noted by the United Nations. Different definitions of rape, varying methods of recording incidents of rape and unknown levels of under-reporting make international comparisons impossible. - 02/03/2017


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