Shukumisa campaign partners are currently monitoring police stations, hospitals and courts, to see what services are being provided to rape survivors as set out by the Sexual Offences Act of 2007. Here are the experiences of a few of the monitors:
Bongi Zondi does Paralegal outreach for Justice and Women (JAW) in KwaZulu-Natal. She did training for Imvulamehlo CPO members on 29 and 30 November with the aim of monitoring courts on Tues 6 December. She told us that when they arrived at the local court, they were denied permission to monitor by the person in charge; he claimed that he hadn’t received the email requesting permission and so he had no authorisation to allow the monitors in. The JAW monitors hope that they will have more luck when they visit the police station in the next few days.
Nkhumi Tshivase of Thoyandou Victim Empowerment Programme in Limpopo province encountered a similar obstacle when they attempted to monitor the local hospital: officials claimed that they had not received any request and denied the monitors permission to do their work.
Ntutu Dubela is a part of the Stop the Bus Campaign that Rape Crisis Cape Town is conducting in the Western Cape. As a Xhosa speaker, she has been part of community education and outreach, as well as monitoring of police stations. She told us of her experiences when the campaign bus visited Gaansbaai:
- the local police station was helpful and met its requirements – copies of the Sexual Offences Act were available for the local community and they had a Victim Support room available for rape survivors but that there was no on-going counselling available for rape survivors in the community.
- There was a big difference between the police’s perceptions of the community and the reality within the community –the police captain said that there was no rape in the community, but Rape Crisis counsellors found five cases during their interactions with the women there.
Ntutu said that women of the community needed much more education about their rights, especially around marital rape and incest; these problems were often settled within families, according to cultural norms but that people needed to be educated about their legal rights. The monitors were also told by the community that women felt too intimidated to report rape cases to the police because in many instances, the police were friendly with the rapists and the victims didn’t believe that they would get any justice.
Rape Crisis monitors felt that the local community needed much more education in the form of on-going workshops about cultural issues and legal rights.
The Shukumisa campaign recognises that fair treatment of rape survivors has two requirements:
- although South Africa has mostly good laws around sexual offences, official implementation isn’t always adequate
- people need to be educated about their basic rights and responsibilities for these laws to be effective and useful