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South African Serial Rapists: The Offenders, Their Victims, and Their Offenses

Jessica Woodhams and Gérard Labuschagne.

Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment; December 2012, vol. 24, no. 6, 544-574.

 

Abstract

Serial rapists have the propensity to cause harm to a significant number of victims, meaning that they are of concern to the police as well as to treatment providers. Despite the serious nature of their offending, there are surprisingly few studies that provide information regarding their characteristics, the types of victim they target, or the nature of the sexual offenses they commit, and those studies that do exist are varied in their findings. This study provides a descriptive analysis of serial rape in South Africa. One hundred and nineteen sexual offenses committed by 22 serial rapists were sampled. Information regarding the victims, the offenders, and the crimes they had committed were extracted from police files. The characteristics of victims and offenders are reported as well as the frequencies for 114 different crime scene behaviors. When compared with samples of serial sex offenders from other countries, differences emerged in victim characteristics and crime scene behaviors, including how the victims were targeted, the sexual behaviors engaged in, and the incidence of physical violence. The implications of these observed differences for practice are discussed.

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