South African Girl, 15, Charged With Statutory Rape After Confessing Sex Act Was Consensual

11/18/2010 03:41 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

A 15-year-old South African girl who initially claimed she was gang-raped is now being charged with statutory rape after agreeing the sex was consensual, the BBC reports.

After prosecutors dropped the initial rape charges due to lack of evidence, the girl was reportedly charged with statutory rape by the national director of public prosecutions, Advocate Menzi Simelane, alongside two boys, age 14 and 16, initally thought to be her attackers. The girl originally claimed she had been drugged with a spiked drink before the assault, which was alleged to have taken place in front of other pupils who filmed it on their cell phones.

South African rights groups have slammed the shift in charges, and say the case will no longer serve the interests of the three involved teens and is a particularly harsh move for the female "victim," who attends Jules High School outside of Johannesburg, though she has now claimed the act was consensual.

As South Africa's Independent Online reports:

"The tardy investigation of the case by the police and the recent decision to also charge the alleged victim is yet another indictment to the women of this country," said Alex Mashilo, provincial secretary of the Young Communist League of South Africa.

"It is a demonstration that far from being free and equal citizens in South Africa - with the equal protection and benefit of the law - women in this country still slave away under a patriarchal criminal justice machinery."

With South Africa having one of the highest assault rates in the world, others felt the case could set a harmful precedent for future victims. "There are other ways to handle to matter, the prosecutors are sending a horrific and harmful message to other rape survivors. That causes great concern," Lorenzo Wakefield of the Children's Right Project, a legal advice group at Western Cape University, told BBC News.