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Under-funding rape and domestic violence services: Neglecting women’s well-being, neglecting women’s work?

Domestic violence is the most common form of violence experienced by South African women and causes the greatest number of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) cases in women, according to the South African Stress and Health Survey conducted by the University of Cape Town and Johns Hopkins University. The same study found that rape, another crime overwhelmingly experienced by women and girls, was the form of violence most likely to result in PTSD, in addition to causing the most severe and long-term forms of PTSD.[1] But this is not all: depression, anxiety, suicidality, substance abuse, repeated victimisation, disability, HIV-infection and chronic physical health problems may also arise following an experience of rape or domestic violence. Good services to victims and their families are therefore crucial, both in ameliorating post-traumatic stress, as well as preventing some of these other health consequences from developing.

However, where these two crimes are concerned, no service is better than a bad service. A very substantial body of research shows that services do more harm than good when provided by people who have not been adequately trained to respond to rape and domestic violence, who also hold victim-blaming beliefs and do not receive debriefing and supervision. In other words, some degree of specialisation is required to provide quality services. Yet, in the context of funding cuts which began in 2010 and shifts in Department of Social Development (DSD) policy around funding to non-governmental organisations (NGO), it seems that fewer services of deteriorating quality are precisely what is being provided to survivors of rape and domestic violence.

Wendy Thole

An open letter to President Zuma

In an open letter to Jacob Zuma, Wendy is expressing her fear and despair that while our women are dying at the hands of our men, at least one man who should have stepped into the breach long ago and demonstrated his political will to break this never-ending cycle of violence, is in fact reinforcing a dangerous version of masculinity that, in its more extreme incarnations, exacts its brutal collateral damage across our country approximately every four minutes. Every day.

Jen Thorpe

Never tired enough to stop

I am tired of rape in South Africa. I am tired of thinking about it, reading about it, hearing about it. I am tired of the fact that last year over sixty thousand women (enough to fill the Greenpoint stadium) reported a rape to the police, and hundreds of thousands more women were raped but did not report…So on the 14th of February I’ll be supporting One Billion Rising – a movement that will voice its frustration with all of these things. Because I am tired, but I will never be tired enough to stop fighting for women’s right to sexual pleasure, sexual freedom and sexual equality.