Wednesday, 17 May 2017: “South Africa has one of the highest rates of gender-based violence and rape in the world. These crimes happen every day and all night across our country. The reality of rape and what it means for victims must remain top of mind as we grapple with the overwhelming rape culture in our society and how to change it,” says Palesa Khambi, Right to Care’s Group Marketing Manager.
Rape is a crime committed through a sexual act without the consent or agreement between one or more of the people involved. It is traumatic, humiliating and has life changing consequences. You can be raped by a stranger, by someone you know including a teacher, pastor, relative, parent or sibling, or by someone you are going out with. You can even be raped by your spouse.
“Gender based violence including rape encompasses explicit violence including murder, the removal of someone’s autonomy, degradation and victimisation. It also contributes directly to increasing the incidence of HIV, which is where Right to Care’s focus lies. Right to Care delivers prevention, care, and treatment services for HIV, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and TB. Dealing with HIV and STI prevention means we need to consider gender based violence and rape prevention.”
Khambi explains, “Further contributing to the rape culture in South Africa are myths such as:
Someone’s choice of clothing, their choice to drink alcohol, their choice to be flirtatious, or their silence are not crimes. Rape is a crime.”
While women bear the brunt of gender-based violence, men can be raped too. Some people still believe that gay men and women deserve to be raped. She says the force used by a rapist to subdue a male victim is often much more violent than that used towards a woman. Manipulation is also often used to control and overpower younger boys and teenagers.
What to do when raped
The police should take you to a private room and you can request a female officer.
“The issue of under reporting remains a challenge in quantifying and monitoring levels of gender based violence and rape. Through our partnerships with funders, government, civil society, traditional and religious leaders, we encourage every victim of gender based violence or rape to report the crime.
Says Khambi: “Right to Care works with both the Department of Health and the Department of Correctional Services to prevent gender based violence, rape and HIV. Thuthuzela Care Centres are playing an important role in dealing with the aftermath of rape and providing best practice post violence care to victims. These one-stop facilities that have been introduced as a critical part of South Africa’s anti-rape strategy, aiming to reduce secondary trauma for the victim, to improve conviction rates and to reduce the cycle time for finalising cases. They operate in public hospitals in communities where the incidence of rape is high and they are also linked to the sexual offences courts which is a new South African anti-rape intervention.”
Khambi says that more initiatives like DREAMS are required to deal with the scourge of rape and violence. “The goal of DREAMS, which Right to Care is part of, is to help girls develop into determined, resilient, empowered, AIDS-free, mentored, and safe women. DREAMS addresses the structural drivers that directly and indirectly increase girls’ HIV risk, including poverty, gender inequality, sexual violence, and a lack of education.
“Many adolescent girls and young women lack opportunities and are devalued because of gender bias, leading them to be seen as unworthy of investment or protection. Social isolation, economic disadvantage, discriminatory cultural norms, orphanhood, gender-based violence, and school drop-out all contribute to girls’ vulnerability to HIV.”
Right to Care is a non-profit organisation that supports and delivers prevention, care, and treatment services for HIV and TB. Through technical assistance, Right to Care supports private sector, the Department of Health and the Department of Correctional Services. In addition, through direct service delivery, Right to Care treats patients for HIV, TB, cervical cancer, and sexually transmitted infections.
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