Sup­port for rape sur­vivors

Grocott's Mail - - NEWS - By KATHRYN CLEARY

As the coun­try con­tin­ues to mourn the loss of Rhodes Univer­sity stu­dent Khen­sani Maseko, Gro­cott’s Mail has made it a pri­or­ity to pro­vide on­go­ing cov­er­age of is­sues re­lated to gen­der-based vi­o­lence. The cov­er­age will in­clude news sto­ries, as well as re­sources for the greater Gra­ham­stown (Makhanda) com­mu­nity.

Ac­cord­ing to re­search by Me­dia Mon­i­tor­ing Africa (MMA), out of all sto­ries an­a­lysed in South African me­dia in 2017, only 6% were about gen­der-based vi­o­lence. The Her­ald had the most re­port­ing on the topic in the coun­try, more than Huff­in­g­ton Post and News24. Gro­cott’s Mail wants to hear your sto­ries, your news, and your ques­tions about gen­der-based vi­o­lence so that we can con­tinue to in­ves­ti­gate and re­port on this crit­i­cal na­tional is­sue.

This week, we have worked to put to­gether a few re­sources that lo­cal res­i­dents can eas­ily ac­cess if they or some­one they know ex­pe­ri­ences gen­der-based vi­o­lence. In July, our col­leagues at Health-e News Ser­vice launched the Sur­vivors’ Sup­port Ser­vice. Kerry Cul­li­nan, Man­ag­ing Ed­i­tor of Health-e writes that it is “a USSD ser­vice and on­line map that pro­vides a di­rec­tory of all Thuthuzela Care Cen­tres, hos­pi­tals, 24-hour clin­ics and shel­ters for sur­vivors of sex­ual vi­o­lence sur­vivors across the coun­try.”

To ac­cess the ser­vice, sim­ply dial *134*1994*1#

Users will be shown all the avail­able ser­vices in their area, with con­tact and lo­ca­tion de­tails. “This is part of Health-e’s ‘Izwi Lami’ (‘My Voice’) cam­paign to en­sure that rape sur­vivors get the med­i­cal ser­vices and sup­port that they need and are en­ti­tled to,” writes Cul­li­nan.

Us­ing the ser­vice, Gro­cott’s Mail found that there were only four re­sources avail­able to sur­vivors within a 50 kilo­me­tre ra­dius of Gra­ham­stown (Makhanda), in­clud­ing Set­tlers Hospi­tal and Day Hospi­tal.

How­ever, the Makana Rape Sur­vivors Sup­port Group and Safe­house is avail­able for res­i­dents. The Sup­port Group and Safe­house are ac­ces­si­ble through the South African Po­lice Ser­vices (SAPS) Com­mu­nity Ser­vice Cen­tre. Should an in­take clerk be made aware that a per­son has ex­pe­ri­enced gen­der-based vi­o­lence, a mem­ber of the Sup­port Group will be con­tacted im­me­di­ately to fur­ther as­sist and sup­port the per­son.

The Sup­port Group pro­vides on­go­ing care and sup­port for sur­vivors of gen­der-based vi­o­lence, in­clud­ing ini­tial coun­selling and per­sonal care. A mem­ber of the Sup­port Group will only ask the sur­vivor if they are ready to give a state­ment to the po­lice, or open a case, once they are ready. The mem­ber will also ac­com­pany the sur­vivor to the hospi­tal for a med­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion. Should the sur­vivor and their fam­ily be un­able to re­turn home, a Safe­house is avail­able. The lo­ca­tion of the Safe­house is clas­si­fied for se­cu­rity pur­poses.

Mem­bers of the Sup­port Group told Gro­cott’s Mail that they see a high num­ber of sur­vivors, par­tic­u­larly women and young chil­dren. They added how­ever, that the num­bers have de­creased in the past year, po­ten­tially due to com­mu­nity cam­paigns. They added that they do not see many stu­dents, largely be­cause stu­dents do not wish to re­port their cases to the po­lice. In Gra­ham­stown (Makhanda) with­out re­port­ing the case to the po­lice, sur­vivors are un­able to eas­ily ac­cess cru­cial med­i­cal ser­vices, such as Post-ex­po­sure Pro­phy­laxis (PEPS), and STD/STI screen­ing.

For se­cu­rity rea­sons, a phone num­ber or ad­dress is not avail­able for these ser­vices. Res­i­dents are asked to visit the Gra­ham­stown or Joza SAPS Com­mu­nity Ser­vice Cen­tre.

Gro­cott’s Mail also spoke to a Se­nior State Ad­vo­cate with the Na­tional Prose­cut­ing Author­ity (NPA), who en­cour­aged sur­vivors to come for­ward and re­port their cases as soon as pos­si­ble. The quicker the case is re­ported, the higher the chances for a thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tion and prose­cu­tion of the al­leged per­pe­tra­tor. “There is tremen­dous ma­chin­ery at our dis­posal,” the pros­e­cu­tor said. In terms of in­ves­ti­gat­ing cases of gen­der-based vi­o­lence, the NPA along with SAPS are able to suc­cess­fully col­lect ev­i­dence that could greatly ben­e­fit a sur­vivor’s case. The pros­e­cu­tor stated that roughly 98% of gen­der-based vi­o­lence cases are suc­cess­fully pros­e­cuted in the Gra­ham­stown (Makhanda) High Court. No in­for­ma­tion about the Re­gional Courts was avail­able.

In the af­ter­math of Maseko’s death, the Ad­vo­cate en­cour­aged univer­sity stu­dents to re­port their cases to both the in­sti­tu­tion and the po­lice. They said how­ever, that the univer­sity is not the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem, and there­fore can­not pros­e­cute for rape or sex­ual as­sault. Though the al­leged per­pe­tra­tor may be ex­cluded from the in­sti­tu­tion as a re­sult of an in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion, the case must go through the jus­tice sys­tem for crim­i­nal prose­cu­tion.

Gro­cott’s Mail will con­tinue to re­port on this is­sue.

For more in­for­ma­tion about Health-e's Sur­vivor Sup­port Ser­vices click here: https://bit.ly/2bec­n2l

Photo: Kathryn Cleary

Rhodes Univer­sity stu­dents and staff march up to the Mon­u­ment on 7 Au­gust to mourn Khen­sani Maseko.

Photo: Screen­grab, Kathryn Cleary

There are only four listed re­sources on the Sur­vivor Sup­port map within a 50km of Gra­ham­stown (Makhanda).

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