demands healthcare services for sexual violence victims

The possibility of being raped is a reality faced by many of South Africa’s women.

As if this is not enough, many women are further burdened by not being able to access post-rape care services, exposing them to a myriad of problems including unwanted pregnancies, HIV infection and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – among others, says in a statement issued by Fray Intermedia.

“Assistance can be made available at Thuthuzela Care Centres (TCCs) but their funding is drying up. This puts the critical services needed by survivors at risk, and given South Africa’s high levels of violence, this is a potential disaster,” says campaigns manager Thuli Ngubane.

Thuthuzela Care Centres are “one-stop” facilities for rape survivors, which provide services including medical care, counselling and the collection of evidence used to prosecute alleged rapists.

Most of these centres reportedly rely on staff paid by non-government organisations (NGOs) to provide emotional counselling to survivors.

Studies have shown that mental health helps survivors of sexual violence cope much better with their trauma.

“No survivor needs to carry the burden of being pregnant and contracting HIV after being raped while the buck is being passed around by those who can and have the power to change that.

“We must all support the call for all health facilities to be functional and stocked up to provide care to rape survivors – and this urgently needs an inter-departmental response which must include Health, Social Development, the National Prosecuting Authority and others,” says Ngubane.

The lack of support in rape care, the shortage of TCCs combined with the potential scaling down of services at existing ones, means that rape survivors are exposed to further harm arising from the aftermath of rape.

With the increase of reports of gender based violence, there is an opportunity to make sure that those entrusted with ensuring services for rape victims take a lead in providing effective post-rape services.

“As a community, we commit to supporting the organisations – and the many women facing injustices in this country – in their fight for assistance. We urge all South Africans to support this campaign” concludes Ngubane. -@FanieFLK

Fanie Mthupha

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