• 3600 underpants have been hung up in Johannesburg to represent the number of rapes in South Africa every day. (Facebook/SasDirtyLandry)Source: Facebook/SasDirtyLandry
Each pair of underpants represents a rape that takes place in South Africa every day, according to the artists behind #SasDirtyLaundry.
Alyssa Braithwaite

15 Dec 2016 - 1:05 PM  UPDATED 15 Dec 2016 - 1:11 PM

South African women have donated their used undies for an art installation to raise awareness about the country's rape problem.

Around 3,600 pairs of underpants have been hung out on 1.2 kilometres of washing line over the streets of Johannesburg to represent the number of rapes estimated to occur in the African nation every day, according to the artists behind the campaign - Jenny Nijenhuis and Nondumiso Msimanga. 

The women, who are both sexual assault survivors, put a public call out for donations of knickers using the hashtag #SasDirtyLaundry and the Facebook page Pantiesplea, as part of the SA's Dirty Laundry street installation project. 

"The problem in South Africa is that there's a culture or belief that women and girls are owned and that sex is a man's right," Nijenhuis tells Upworthy

"We hope that the exhibition therefore will educate and make people more aware of what their choices and beliefs are and how these choices affect the lives of women [and] others every day."

South Africa has one of the highest rates of rape in the world, and Msimanga says the figure of 3,600 rapes a day was based on a 2010 study by the country's Medical Research Council. It found that just one in 25 rapes in the South African province of Gauteng were reported. 

"Extrapolated from figures at the time, it could have meant that up to 3,600 people in South Africa were raped every day," she wrote in the Mail & Guardian.

But Africa Check, an organisation which promotes accuracy in public debates and reports, have challenged that figure, arguing that figures for Gauteng are not representative of South Africa as a whole, and could also account for male and child victims.

The UN estimates that there are 132 rapes per 100,000 citizens in South Africa.

But Nijenhuis says “the number 3,600 is symbolic of the number of people in South Africa who are raped or sexually abused every day”.

Carmen Ives, a volunteer who helped with the installation, told The Guardian: "One pair of panties is one pair too  many. It made me think that today, some girl is being raped somewhere." 

The project has struck a chord with South African women on social media:


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