Rape Adjudication and Prosecution Study in South Africa

The Rape Adjudication and Prosecution Study in South Africa (RAPSSA) is a national study of the prosecution and adjudication of rape matters (including attempted rape) as reported to the police (including sections 15/16 of the Sexual Offences Act i.e. “consensual” sexual penetration). With an overall aim to investigate and understand amenable factors in rape case attrition, the study investigated the epidemiology of rape cases reported to police in the year 2012 and the patterns of their attrition at provincial and national level. Other study objectives included assessing the quality of medical examination, prosecutorial decision making, the use of evidence in trials and the application of law. The study took a criminal justice system approach and is based on the extraction of data from police case dockets, charge sheets, medical reports and court trial transcripts. Interviews were conducted with service providers including South African Police Services members and prosecutors.

The study is part of a larger program, the FPD/USAID Increasing Services for Survivors of Sexual Assault in South Africa (ISSSASA) and was commissioned by the National Prosecuting Authority. The SAMRC Gender and Health Unit led RAPSSA in collaboration with partners from the South African Police Services, University of the Witwatersrand WISER and the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS).