News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Wednesday June 26th 2019

Support for rape victims insufficient

Sandiso Phaliso

Support services aimed at assisting rape survivors by counselling are not helping. Instead the lack of co-ordination between government departments makes survivors more vulnerable, resulting in them living in fear and suffering from depression and loneliness, which affects their performance at work, school and at their homes, says Rape Crisis director Kathleen Dey.

“Thousands of women are still struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder,” she said.

Dey said a shortage of social workers and trained police personnel hampered rape survivors’ ability to resume life as normal in their communities.

Dey said proper protocol in which a rape is reported to the police who would then report it to the health department for forensic testing, is not being followed thoroughly by officials, leading to the perpetrator going a free.

This resulted in many cases in which victims had to carry on living in the same street, or even the same home, same school or work place as the rapist.

Resources Aimed at the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (RAPCAN) manager Moefeeda Salie-Kajee said there is a lack of rape counselling, especially for young victims, which had serious implications for the psychological health of the survivor.

Salie-Kajee said the lack of counseling resulted in court cases being postponed as the rape survivor was not in a fit psychological state to face the court, leading to cases dragging on, sometimes for years.

She said rape survivors who did not receive counseling could not withstand rigorous cross-examination, with the result that perpetrators were often acquitted.

“Children and their families need counselling so they can deal with what happened and move on. The scars are deeper than everyone thinks, and they stay inside the survivor for a long time, even for life.”

Salie-Kajee and Dey’s comments come in the wake of the High Court judge Abe Motala observations during the sentencing of serial rapist Tsediso Letsoenya that over 20 women who had been raped by him had not any received counselling, four-years after the incidents.

Motala said: “One cannot imagine what it was like for the victims and their families because of the actions of this man (Letsoenya), and it is a sad situation that some of the victims did not get any help.”

Last week the Medical Research Council of South Africa released a study revealing that scores of rape survivors in the province failed to receive sufficient therapy after surviving the ordeal of rape.

The report also indicated that victims who did receive counselling had to wait for up to six months before getting help.

The report also noted that the caregivers of young rape victims also struggled to deal with the trauma, severely hampering their ability to support the children. – West Cape News

Tags: gender

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