The Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Mr. Jeff Radebe, today launched the Increasing Services for Survivors of Sexual Assault Programme, at the Phoenix Thuthuzela Care Centre (TCC) in KwaZulu Natal.
The programme brings together local and international partners all aimed at addressing the current pandemic of sexual and gender based violence affecting the country.
Funded by USAID and the M.A.C AIDS Fund, the programme aims to support the Sexual Offences and Community Affairs Unit (SOCA) of the National Prosecuting Authority in achieving its objectives of:
Increasing public awareness of the Thuthuzela Care Centres (TCC’s)
Expanding and improving services of TCC’s through education, training, research and infrastructure support.
TCCs are one-stop facilities that are a critical part of South Africa’s anti-rape strategy, aiming to reduce secondary victimisation, improve conviction rates and reduce the cycle time for finalisation of cases.
TCCs operate best in public hospitals close to communities where the incidence of rape is particularly high. They are also linked to the reopening sexual offences courts, which are to be staffed by highly experienced prosecutors, social workers, magistrates, NGOs and police.
The TCC project is a direct response to the scourge of sexual and gender based violence affecting the country, and represents an integrated strategy for prevention, response and support for victims of sexual and gender based violence.
Recognising that the demand for such services far outstrips the availability of TCCs, the USAID and the M·A·CAIDS Fund engaged the Foundation for Professional Development, and its civil society partners, Soul City Institute, Sonke Gender Justice Network (Sonke), and the Medical Research Council, as implementing partners to address this challenge.
The wide array of services and experience within this partnership, has allowed for the partners to draw on their core competencies to deliver a holistic model of ensuring that victims are treated with care and compassion, and that victims are turned into survivors through education, awareness and life skills development.
According to the Minister of Justice, “In practical terms, the Thuthuzela Care Centre model serves as a powerful tool to convert the Constitution (of the Republic of South Africa) into a living instrument of law for all victims of sexual and gender based violence.”
The launch was attended by the US Charge d’Affaires, Virginia Palmer, who together with the Minister; Provincial dignitaries, the key partners signed the Thuthuzela Care Centre Pledge, committing them to continued support for victims of sexual and gender based violence through the centres.
“We are proud to continue working with the governments of South Africa and the U.S. to expand the successful TCC network and the critical services it provides,” said Nancy Mahon, Global Executive Director of the M·A·C AIDS Fund. “We have been humbled by the impact we’ve already seen the TCC network has on women’s lives. In addition to reducing secondary victimization and improving conviction rates, the TCCs network also plays a vital role in limiting new HIV infections. We hope the expansion of this network will enable us to help more women in need of care throughout South Africa.”
According to Dr. Gustaaf Wolvaardt, CEO of FPD, “ This project is a wonderful example of true international collaboration- it creates a platform that harmonizes the efforts of government, civil society and donors around a common purpose of taking a stand against sexual and gender based violence in South Africa”
According to Dr. Sue Goldstein of Soul City, “This programme gives us the opportunity to begin to shift the societal norms that continue driving and growing the silent epidemic of sexual and gender based violence facing us.”
Mbuyiselo Botha of Sonke, made a passionate appeal: “We call on men and boys to rise and take action to stop sexual violence in our country and say NOT IN MY NAME. We must end the stigma associated with rape and support survivors of sexual violence who seek services at the Thuthuzela Care Centres”.
The Medical Research Council’s Prof. Rachel Jewkes affirms that, “the high levels of sexual violence and low levels of reporting are indicative of a society with huge need and relatively inaccessible services, justice demands that victims should be able to access care and assistance after rape so we can remove the pervasive climate of impunity for perpetrators”