Tuesday July 30, 01:20 PM

Reuters web site.



Week-old baby girl raped in South Africa
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) -

A week-old baby girl has been raped in South Africa, making her the youngest victim in a spate of child rapes fuelled by the myth that sex with a virgin cures AIDS.

Superintendent Lawrence Zondi told Reuters by telephone that police were investigating Sunday's attack at Kwaminya in KwaZulu-Natal province.

"A week-old child has been raped by an unknown person. She is seriously injured but her condition is stable," he said on Tuesday.

On Friday, a South African man was sentenced to life imprisonment for raping a nine-month-old baby in an attack that outraged a country known for high levels of violent crime.

Passing sentence on 23-year-old David Potse, Judge Hennie Lacock said the rape of the baby -- identified only by the nickname Tshepang, meaning "Have Hope" -- was the most gruesome example of a human rights violation that he had come across.

Lacock said he would have imposed the death penalty without hesitation had South Africa not abolished capital punishment.

Tshepang survived October's attack but had reconstructive surgery to repair her genitals and internal organs.

Some 21,000 cases of child rape were reported to South African police last year. Experts say some of the culprits are infected with the HIV/AIDS virus and believe -- as elsewhere in Africa -- that sex with a young virgin will cure them.

On Tuesday, Superintendent Zondi said the baby's mother, whom he did not name, saw blood on the child's diaper when she changed it on Sunday evening and found bruises on her genitals.

"I am speechless and horrified," said Kelly Hatfield, who heads a group opposing violence against women in South Africa.

"Rape is about power and control but how much more powerful can you be over something so little and vulnerable? It shows lack of self-esteem, depression, depravity and perversion," she told Reuters.

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