Gender based violence in South Africa

Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and femicide is a persistent, widespread problem in South Africa and excessively impacting on women and children.

The Crimes Against Women in South Africa Report by Statistics SA shows that femicide is five times higher than the global average. This scourge is systemic and deeply entrenched in institutions, cultures and traditions in our society. This is also one of the human rights violation with major social and developmental impacts for survivors of violence, as well as their families, communities and society more broadly.

Women no longer face the triple challenges of inequality, unemployment and poverty. They face quadruple challenges, the fourth challenge being gender-based violence. As the government, we need to acclimatize to categorizing the socio-economic challenges facing women to include gender-based violence. That way we will be seized with the task of ensuring that our women are safe in their homes, at work and on the streets.

5 Pillars of the Response Plan as adopted from the National Emergency Plan and they are as follows:

· Prevention of Gender-based Violence

· Provide care, support and healing for victims of GBV

· Enhance the legal and policy framework

· Strengthen the criminal justice system

· Economic empowerment of women

The plan also includes the setting up a focal point panel of gender activists, which will be located in the Office of the Premier, and part of its responsibility will be to coordinate government, civil society and private sector interventions against gender-based violence and femicide. This clearly demonstrates our unwavering commitment in dealing decisively with the scourge of gender-based violence.

The Do’s and Don’ts of actions after Rape

First Response: Your goal is to stay alive and get to a safe place as soon as possible!
Contact a friend or family member: The first person you tell about the rape is called the “first witness”. This person may need to make a statement to the police about your condition and, if possible, should accompany you to the hospital or police station.

What not to do:

Do not wash yourself or throw away your clothes, no matter how much you want to. There might be hair, blood or semen on your body or clothes that can be used as evidence of the rape. Put your clothes in a paper bag.
If you were drunk or stoned at the time of the rape: Don’t let that stop you from reporting the matter and getting medical treatment – being intoxicated is not a crime, rape is!
Try and remember: Provide as many details as you can of the incident to the person helping you. This may serve as useful evidence.
Dealing with the police: Initially, only a brief statement is required from you. Make sure you read over the statement before signing it. You can provide a more detailed statement later. Ask for a copy of your statement. If you fear retribution or intimidation from the rapist/s, make sure the police are aware of this and ask that the rapist not be allowed out on bail, or apply for a protection order.
At the police station you have the RIGHT to:
Make your statement in a private room
Make your statement to a female officer (if there is one)
Make your statement in your own language
Have a friend or family member with you for support
Ask for a copy of your statement (you are entitled to by law), write down the name of the investigating officer, case number and the phone number for the police station so you can call to check progress of your case. Remember, you are not alone!
Rape and abuse assistance: Rape Trauma Syndrome (RTS) is a form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that often affects rape survivors. It is important to get support and counselling after being sexually abused. Counselling services are offered by many organisations.
Dial 1347355# to find a care facility in your immediate location. Available in all nine provinces!
HIV / AIDS: It is important to get antiretroviral (ARVs) within 72 hours of penetration, attempted penetration, oral sex or anal sex. You will also receive PEP (Post Exposure Prophylaxis) medication.
Should I report my attack to the police? While there’s no way to change what happened, you can seek justice while helping to stop it from happening to someone else. Reporting to the police is the key to preventing sexual assault: Every time we lock up a rapist, we are preventing him/ her from committing another attack. It’s the most effective tool that exists to prevent future r apes. In the end, though, whether or not to report is your decision to make. According to the Harassment Act and the Children’s Act, reporting of sexual abuse of individuals 16 and younger is mandatory for adults. We hope you decide to report your attack. There are many good reasons to report, and some victims say that reporting the sexual abuse helped their recovery and helped them regain a sense of control. Nobody should face a traumatic event like sexual abuse alone.

You need to get support! Don’t ignore your feelings! Your life may depend on it!