At our very first meeting in 2004, the National Working Group on Sexual Offences numbered fifteen organisations. So looking around the room during last week’s meeting provided a real sense of satisfaction: not only had the Group been working together for nine years, but its membership had also grown. We are now the Shukumisa Campaign and consist of 30 member organisations from each province in the country.
There was another reason for a sense of excitement – for the first time in its history, thanks to SIDA, the Campaign has received the sort of funding that makes it possible to run collective campaigns at local, provincial and national level. Our meeting had a real sense of purpose.
For the next year the Campaign will be focused on three themes:
- challenging current funding policies to ensure that our organisations remain viable and sustainable
- supporting communities to mobilise against sexual violence, as well as monitor the quality of services rape survivors receive
- ensuring that a comprehensive policy framework is in place to uphold rape survivors’ rights
Here’s a quick insight into some of the more concrete activities planned:
- Justice and Women (JAW), with Project Empower and other organisations in KwaZulu-Natal, are already planning a month-long campaign in August around sexual violence. This will also include traditional leaders.
- We’ll also be continuing to engage with the Department of Justice now that we’ve managed to locate their draft policy on specialised courts. There’s also an opportunity to tackle the policing of sexual violence through the White Paper on Safety and Security that will be released for discussion this year.
- Finally, we’ll be gathering all the policies and guidelines on funding from national and provincial departments of social development and tracking who does (not) receive funding and why. This will help us to develop policy guidelines we can advocate around.