How to respond to rape and other gender-based violence:

How to respond to rape and
other gender-based violence:
A guide for survivors and activists
Published by the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC)
This guide was drafted by Alice Clarfelt and edited by Liz Sparg and Catherine Tomlinson
Design and layout was done by Design for development,
Printed by Creda Communications
The guide draws on existing guides and literature in the field of gender-based violence. There are certain organisations
that have contributed significantly to the information provided in this guide, which are acknowledged here:
Centre for AIDS Development, Research and Evaluation
Medical Research Council
Raising Voices
Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust
Shukumisa Campaign
Small Projects Foundation
Sonke Gender Justice
Thohoyandou Victim Empowerment Programme
Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre to End Violence Against Women
Womankind Worldwide
TAC would like to thank these organisations for their valuable contribution. Additionally, we would like to thank all
individuals that have assisted in the development of this guide by providing feedback and reviews. We hope this
guide will be a resource to all those working in the field of gender-based violence in South Africa and globally. Support
was provided by the MAC AIDS Fund of Tides Foundation for the development of this book.
How to respond to rape and
other gender-based violence
For survivors and activists
This book is dedicated to all of TAC’s branch members for their tireless
campaigning against gender-based violence in their communities.
Aims of the guide...................................................................................................................................................7
Part 1: If you have just been raped........................................................................................................................ 9
Steps to take......................................................................................................................................................... 10
Important things we need to know about rape......................................................................................................... 11
Getting help from health services............................................................................................................................. 11
Taking care of yourself after rape................................................................................................................... 12
Feelings after rape.................................................................................................................................................... 12
Steps to take to deal with the trauma of being raped................................................................................................ 13
How your family may react....................................................................................................................................... 14
What medical help do I need if I have been raped?.................................................................................................. 14
The medical examination......................................................................................................................................... 15
Counselling after rape............................................................................................................................................... 16
Challenges in service provision to survivors of gender-based violence (GBV)........................................................... 16
Part 2: National Policy Guidelines for the Department of Health.......................................... 19
Understanding the National Guidelines.......................................................................................................... 20
What is GBV.......................................................................................................................................................... 20
The definition of rape and consent............................................................................................................... 21
Sexual assault........................................................................................................................................... 21
Sexual offences against children.................................................................................................................. 21
Domestic violence...................................................................................................................................... 22
Protection from harassment......................................................................................................................... 22
How big is the problem of GBV in South Africa?.......................................................................................... 23
Part 3: Laying a charge of rape................................................................................................................. 25
Deciding whether to report a rape to the police.......................................................................................... 27
The Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit...................................................................... 27
Why should I lay a charge against the abuser/perpetrator?............................................................................. 27
Steps involved in laying a charge................................................................................................................ 27
How should the police respond to me as a survivor of GBV?................................................................... 28
What do I do if the police fail to act?........................................................................................................... 28
What happens after I report a case of GBV?................................................................................................. 29
The trial................................................................................................................................................................. 29
Preparing for the trial................................................................................................................................ 30
What happens when my case goes to trial?.................................................................................................. 30
What can I do if the perpetrator continues to abuse or harass me?....................................................... 31
Applying for a protection order................................................................................................................................. 31
Civil litigation........................................................................................................................................................ 32
What can I do to take action if the state fails to assist me as a survivor?............................................ 33
Part 4: How can I respond as a partner, family member or friend of a survivor?...... 35
Emotional and practical support..................................................................................................................... 37
What can I do to help a survivor through the legal/criminal justice process?..................................... 38
Part 5: How can I respond to GBV as a service provider?.......................................................... 41
Police officers, health and other emergency workers............................................................................... 42
How do I respond to the survivor of GBV as a police officer?.................................................................................... 43
How do I respond to a survivor of GBV as a health worker?..................................................................................... 43
Part 6: Community action against GBV................................................................................................ 45
Change attitudes towards GBV................................................................................................................................. 47
Engage people in your community........................................................................................................................... 48
Organise a public meeting or workshop.................................................................................................................... 48
Use participatory learning and action methods........................................................................................................ 48
Create and develop support groups.......................................................................................................................... 51
Advocate for better services for GBV survivors.......................................................................................................... 53
Know your rights......................................................................................................................................................... 53
Build a campaign..................................................................................................................................................... 54
Aim activities at decision-makers to achieve policy change...................................................................................... 56
Be creative in your campaigns................................................................................................................................. 59
Part 7: Case studies of GBV.......................................................................................................................... 61
Stories to learn from................................................................................................................................................. 62
Appendicies.......................................................................................................................................................... 69
Definitions................................................................................................................................................................ 72
Useful contact details............................................................................................................................................... 74
References................................................................................................................................................................ 76
Aims of the guide
This guide is for all people who want to learn more about
the guide. We do, however, know that men are also victims
gender-based violence (GBV), the laws that protect
of GBV, and if you are a man that has been raped then the
survivors’ rights, and how to take action. It will help you
steps laid out in this guide can help you too.
understand what GBV is and what you can do about it.
People who need to access services in relation to GBV often
If you are a survivor of GBV, this guide provides clear steps
experience problems. Service providers, such as healthcare
that you can take to help you to feel safe, to heal and to
workers and police, are often not victim-friendly, due to the
bring the perpetrator to justice. You might want to find out
lack of resources and poor training. Also, many survivors
about how you can protect yourself from ongoing abuse,
do not know their rights and how to demand an appropriate
and where to go for support and care. The guide explains
where to report the abuse, and also what help you can get
as a survivor of GBV. You will also find specific information
on what happens after rape, including your medical care,
examination, emotional reactions, the role of family support
and legal processes.
The purpose of this guide is to inform you of your rights, in
order to empower you to exercise your rights and to prevent
further acts of violence from being committed against you
and others. If you know your rights, you are in a better
position to demand that your rights are respected and
If you know someone who is a survivor of GBV, the guide
protected. This guide includes a section on what you can do
will give you information on how you can assist her or him
in situations where the state fails to uphold your rights and/
to get help such as health care and counselling, and to open
or fails to carry out its duties.
a case against the perpetrator.
If you are a community activist, this guide is a resource
In South Africa the statistics of GBV are extremely high. The
you can use to help you run campaigns to change attitudes
majority of victims of sexual violence are women and the
that drive GBV in your community, as well as to advocate
majority of perpetrators are men. Therefore, we have chosen
for better access to care, support and justice services for
to refer to the abuser as male and the survivor as female in
survivors and their families.
Part 1: If you have just been raped
Steps to take
Surviving rape and other forms of GBV is not easy. Rape is
If you feel that you are not coping, you should seek help
traumatic and affects your mind and your feelings, as well as
from a health/medical facility or a counsellor. Don’t be afraid
your body. Your emotional reactions are normal responses to
to ask for support from your friends and family. If there
an abnormal situation. You might feel overwhelmed now, but
are women’s organisations in your area they may provide
it will get better in time.
counselling or have support groups you can attend.
Here are a few important steps that a survivor should
take as soon as possible after the rape has occurred:
Go to a safe place as soon as possible.
Tell someone you trust. It’s hard to talk, but very important. The first person you tell is
usually asked to go to court to support your story. So, if you decide to report the rape, the
police must be able to find and talk to that person.
Don’t throw away your clothes or wash yourself, no matter how much you want to. There may
be hair, blood or semen from the rapist on your body or clothes. If you decide to report the
attack, this will be important evidence.
Don’t drink any alcohol or take medication before the district surgeon or doctor examines you.
If you’re badly hurt, go straight to a hospital or a doctor. They can call the police to the hospital if
The sooner a doctor examines you, the better the chances of finding strong proof like
Put the clothes you were wearing when you were attacked into a paper bag or wrap them in
You will also need to undergo anti-retroviral treatment, as soon as possible, to decrease your
If you do, tell them what you have taken.
you want to report what’s happened to you. The police can also take you to a hospital.
blood or semen from your attacker on your body or clothes.
newspaper. The chemicals from a plastic packet can destroy evidence from the rapist.
chances of contracting HIV. You must take this treatment within 72 hours of the rape.
If you have been raped
Important things we need to know about rape
Rape can happen to anyone - a male or female, of any age, race, class, nationality, or religious affiliation.
No one asks to be raped, no matter what they wear, where they are, what they have done, or whether they have been
using drugs or alcohol.
You can be raped by a stranger, or by someone you know and trust.
Rape is about power and control. Rapists use sex as a way of taking control and making themselves feel powerful.
Nobody ‘deserves’ or ‘asks’ to be raped. It is not your fault that it happened to you.
Rape is not a ‘crime of passion’, it is a ‘crime of power’.
Rape is an abuse of your human and sexual rights and it is against the law.
People may not use their marriage as an excuse to sexually assault their partners
You have not consented to a sex-act if:
someone forces or threatens you with violence or threats of violence
someone in a position of power or authority threatens you, for instance if someone tells you that you will lose your job if
you do not have sex with them
you are lied to by a doctor or other health worker, who tells you that a sex act is part of a physical examination, or is
necessary for your mental or physical health
you are asleep
you are unconscious
you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol
you are a child under the age of 12
you are a person with a mental disability
Getting help from health services
If you are raped, it is important that you get health care as quickly as possible. If you are badly hurt, you should go straight
to the nearest health facility before you go to the police. It is best if you can go to a facility where a doctor can give you
treatment and can collect evidence to support your case if you choose to report the rape to the police.
If you go first to the police, they are meant to transport you to the hospital rather than keep you at the police station.
Sometimes the police delay because the patient has 72 hours before she has to get medication (called post-exposure
prophylaxis or PEP) to prevent HIV infection, but you can insist that they transport you quickly to the nearest health facility.
This is your right. Remember it is important that you see a medical professional as soon as possible, to get treatment for
injuries or sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and to collect evidence before it breaks down and becomes unusable, as
time goes by.
Taking care of yourself after rape
Feelings after rape
Rape survivors experience different feelings. You may find you experience severe distress soon after the rape,
or you may feel you are coping well at first. Then, after some days or weeks you may develop new feelings,
concerns and problems. The emotional reactions that are often experienced by rape survivors include:
very strong feelings of powerlessness and vulnerability
anger and aggression, as a reaction to the feelings of powerlessness
fear that you are not safe and that it could happen again
the need to get away from a place which reminds you of the rape
loss of trust in others
inability to see a future where things look different from what you are experiencing right now
feelings of being dirtied and loss of self-esteem
wish to avoid other people due to shame, low self-esteem or a sense of being different or apart from
feelings of being separated from your life: inability to feel all the emotions you previously felt, such as
love for your children and parents or even feelings of pain, pleasure, anger or grief
fear of any physical contact and sex, even with your intimate partner (boyfriend/girlfriend/husband) and
those close to you
feeling uncertain about where you are and how to act, lack of concentration and forgetfulness
nightmares that might repeat themselves and often involve scenes of moments of extreme insecurity,
powerlessness and terror
anxiety and panic attacks
flashbacks: experiences of reliving the rape or part of the rape (they can be caused by images or a smell,
sound or touch)
changes in sleep: difficulty in either getting to sleep or staying asleep
eating disturbances, such as reducing food intake or over-eating
an usually strong sense that you need to defend yourself, due to a fear that the rape could happen
again and a need to take very great precautions to prevent it
feelings of being responsible for what happened, or even of guilt
feelings of shame or embarrassment
thoughts of suicide: you need to tell someone if you feel this way.
Remember you still have choices and can exercise your rights as a survivor of GBV, even though, during the
rape, choice was taken away from you. You can take back your power to choose and there are people who
can support you in doing that.
It is important for you to understand that rape can happen to anyone (man, woman, boy or girl) and it is not
your fault. Rape is an abuse of your human and sexual rights and it is against the law. It is important not to
blame yourself if you have been raped.
If you have been raped
Steps to take to deal with the trauma of
being raped
Rape is a traumatic experience and there are steps you can
take to help yourself recover from it. Here are some practical
Thinking through why you were raped and
what happened
You should acknowledge the trauma that you are going
through and remember that it will make an impact on your
life for a while. You can’t be expected just to carry on as
before. It is normal for you think a lot about why you were
raped. It’s important to remember that the people who rape
of most aspects of your daily life, even if it doesn’t feel that
way. You can make choices about what steps to take or what
you want to do. For example, if you feel unsafe, put bars
on your windows or another lock on your door, or make an
arrangement for someone you trust to stay with you, or walk
with you, so that you are not alone.
Taking care of your body
Take care of your body by trying to eat healthy foods, do
some exercise every day and try to rest as much as you can.
If you have lost your appetite and don’t feel like eating, then
try to eat small amounts at a time and then try to increase
how often you eat. If you are not sleeping well at night, take
are the ones to blame: not you.
a half hour walk each day if you can; don’t eat, drink or
Talking about the rape with a close friend, family member
Try to do relaxing things like taking baths with rock salts,
or counsellor can make it feel less frightening. You should
rosemary or lavender, soaking your feet in a basin of hot
not feel pushed to talk, if you are not yet ready. If talking is
water or taking a hot water bottle to bed with you on a cold
difficult, write down what happened.
day. Massages are also good. Try and find other things that
smoke soon before going to bed, and don’t panic if you can’t
will comfort your body and soothe your mind.
Caring for your emotions
You may feel emotional pain and suffering as a consequence
Support and safety
of being raped. These feelings are very important. They can
It’s good to think about the situations in which you feel
be the real key to our healing, even though they hurt so
unsafe and to work out what you can do to feel safer. If the
much that all we want is for them to stop.
rapist’s family or friends contacts you, follows you or hangs
Give yourself space and time to feel. Pay attention to your
feelings. Trying to push them away could make your healing
take longer. Try to express feelings and share them.
If you feel so upset that you are thinking about harming
yourself, or anyone else, you need to contact a counselling
service or a doctor. There is nothing to be ashamed of from
experiencing a strong reaction to an extreme situation.
There are some antidepressants and other medicines that
may help your upset feelings. If you need medication, talk to
your healthcare worker about how to get it.
Cry if you have to. And most of all, if there is something
to laugh at, then laugh. There is nothing like laughter for
Getting control of your life again
You will have good days and bad days. You are in control
out near your house, report this to the police immediately.
Positive thoughts
What you think can affect the way you feel. You did the best
you could in the situation. Do not dwell on what you should
have done differently. You may need to make an effort to
stop criticising yourself or having negative or frightening
thoughts after the rape.
Try and educate yourself about rape. The best way to start
feeling in control of the decisions you make is by learning
as much as you can about the medical, legal and emotional
aspects of rape.
Remember your faith in life. This can be a religious faith,
your own positive beliefs about life, or your personal
philosophy. Go to people who have helped you keep faith in
life in the past, read the things that have previously helped
you and go to the places that help you with your faith.
other survivors. You will be able to help them and they you.
What medical help do I need if I have been
Touching and sex after rape
Survivors of rape often do not want sex or to be touched.
Rape is a violent act, and you may have internal as well as
This feeling will pass in time.
external injuries. It is important to get these treated.
Remember, you do not need to touch or trust anyone more
STIs and HIV
You are not alone. Join or form a support group and meet
than you feel comfortable doing. You may only be able
to enjoy sex properly if you can feel in control of sexual
situations. You must talk to your partner about how you feel
so that he or she knows that you are not just rejecting him/
her. You do not have to have sex to show love. Your partner
owes it to you to respect your feelings at this time. Take
things at the pace that feels right for you.
Follow-up visits at your health facility
You do not know how many sexual partners a rapist has
had, or what state of health he is in. It is very important
to see a doctor for treatment that will prevent you from
contracting HIV or any other sexually transmitted infections
(STIs) as a result of the rape. If you are HIV negative, there
are pills available that can help prevent HIV infection. It is
very important for you to have an HIV test so that the nurse
or doctor can know whether you should be taking these pills.
You need to take the HIV prevention treatment (PEP) as soon
You will need to return to your health facility for follow-up
as possible after a rape – within six hours if possible. If you
visits, test results, more tests, medication and counselling.
wait longer than 72 hours (three days to start the treatment),
Your doctor or nurse will provide you with dates to return for
it will not work.
follow-up visits. You can return to the health facility if you
experience side effects from medication or need advice and
If you agree to the HIV test, you will be asked to sign a
further assistance. For all follow-up visits, it is a lot easier
consent form and give blood. You will receive counselling
if you return to the place where you were first helped, as
before the blood test and when you get your result. The test
your file and all your medical details are there. Do not miss
result is usually available immediately. The result of the test
will be kept totally confidential.
How your family may react
If your test is positive, it means that you had HIV before the
The rape may also affect your family members, friends and
your partner. Sometimes our friends and family are very
helpful and at other times they can make us feel worse.
Good supporters are very important to you at this time, but
they also may feel that they need support for themselves.
The health facility staff should be able to talk to your family
members and friends, to help them to help you. Your family,
rape. It will be painful to be told that you have HIV, but it is
also very important to know your status. Having HIV is not a
death sentence, but it means you have to look after yourself
in order to be healthy. You will be provided with information
on how to live positively with HIV/AIDS. You will also be
referred for further medical assessment to see if you need
anti-retroviral pills and ongoing help and support.
partner or friends will have their own feelings of trauma
If your test is negative, you will be given pills to prevent
and distress, but you are not responsible for making them
you from acquiring HIV from the rape. It is important for
feel better. You should not feel responsible for causing
you to undergo more HIV tests and you will be offered these
their feelings. You should also not try to protect them from
regularly for up to six months after the rape, to be completely
such feelings. However, it may be helpful for them to seek
sure that the pills have worked.
counselling to get through this difficult time.
Your partner should use a condom every time you have sex,
until your six months test is negative. Explain to your partner
that this is for his protection.
You can ask for a copy of your signed HIV consent form and
your HIV test results.
If you have been raped
Hepatitis B test
All survivors should have a blood test for Hepatitis B. This
is an infection which you can get during rape, especially if
there have been cuts and injuries. Hepatitis B is spread by
contact with the blood of someone who is infected. It can
be prevented by vaccination within three weeks of the rape.
documented on a form called a J88. This will be part of your
docket if you open a case with the police and it can be used
as evidence in a court case.
What can I expect to happen during the rape
The doctor or nurse will ask for your medical history. This
Possible pregnancy
includes when, where, and what happened during the rape.
No-one wants to fall pregnant as a result of being raped. So
He/she will ask when last you had consenting sex, whether
it’s very important to receive treatment to prevent pregnancy.
you have had children, and when you last menstruated. This
It is possible for you to fall pregnant if you have started
helps the doctor to know whether any tears occurred in the
menstruating and have not yet reached menopause. Even
vagina as a result of the rape.
if you are using a contraceptive like the injection or pill,
you will be asked to provide urine for a pregnancy test. The
results of this test will be available to you immediately.
The examination may be embarrassing and uncomfortable.
You will be asked to take off your clothes, and this might
make you feel vulnerable and exposed. The doctor might
If your test is positive within two weeks of the rape, then
not be as sympathetic as he/she should be. If the doctor
you were pregnant before the rape. Any pills that you will be
is male, there should be a female nurse present during
given will not harm your baby.
the examination. Some health facilities have a Thuthuzela
If your test is positive two weeks or more after the rape,
you could be pregnant from before the rape or from the rape.
You will need to have an ultrasound scan to find out how
long you have been pregnant.
If your test is negative and it is still negative within
five days of the rape, you will be given pills to prevent
pregnancy from the rape. The pills might make you feel sick,
and you will start to bleed. This bleeding is like a normal
period. If you do fall pregnant from the rape and you decide
you do not wish to continue with the pregnancy, then you
can obtain an abortion or termination of pregnancy.
Care Centre, where you should find be a psychologist
or counsellor who can talk you through the examination
process. Otherwise, try and get a family member, friend or
community counsellor to be with you whilst you are having
the medical examination. (There is a list of Thuthuzela Care
Centres and their contact details at the end of this guide.)
Before you can drink water and take tablets, the doctor must
take a swab from inside your mouth to try and obtain a
saliva sample from the perpetrator. If the rapist did not kiss
or force you to give him oral sex, tell the doctor immediately,
and you can drink water and take your tablets.
The medical examination
The doctor will examine your whole body, taking tissue
Remember, you should be asked to give consent
semen. There will be swabs that may be uncomfortable,
(permission) before any examination. You can refuse this at
including a vaginal and anal swab. The doctor will also
any time. You may choose to only receive medical care and
use a comb to get samples of your pubic hair and the hair
not be examined at all. If you consent to be examined, you
on your head, if the rapist touched either of these areas, or
will have to sign a police form (called a 308 form) to say
ejaculated on you.
you agree, or give your consent, to be examined. During the
examination you may ask any questions and have a friend or
samples to find evidence of the rapist’s hair, saliva and
It is important to tell the doctor where the rapist touched you
family member present to support you.
and whether you scratched him, so that as much evidence
Why is the medical examination important?
Remember that this process is important for gathering
The examination is done to find injuries you may have
evidence against the rapist. The evidence can be used in a
anywhere on your body from the rape. Injuries are
court case to convict the rapist. If you feel upset after the
as possible can be collected.
rape examination, try to talk to a counsellor, or to a friend or
officer on call should take your statement, and you should
family member.
be given your medication, before being transported
home. The Thuthuzela Care Centre should also offer you
Why tissue samples are collected
During the examination, tissue samples from the survivor’s
body can be taken and sent to a laboratory for testing for the
rapist’s DNA. DNA is a biological ‘fingerprint’ that is present
throughout our bodies. DNA is found in saliva, blood and
semen. If someone has sexual or other contact with you, for
a referral letter or appointment for long-term counselling,
arrangements to go to a place of safety, if necessary, and
legal and court preparation support. The aim of Thuthuzela
Care Centres is to provide the rape survivor with all services
in one location, rather than moving her around between
different service providers.
example, ejaculates, bites, licks or kisses you, DNA may be
Thuthuzela Care Centres are meant to be in operation in
left behind. If evidence of someone else’s DNA is found on
public hospitals in communities that experience particularly
your body it proves that they had contact with you.
high rates of rape. Some are working well, but others are not
Counselling after rape
Where can I get counselling?
fully operational. The government is aiming to set up more
Thuthuzela Care Centres in South Africa. (You can find the
contact details of your nearest Thuthuzela Care Centre at the
end of this guide.) You can also ask your local police station
All forms of sexual assault, including rape, are traumatic,
to take you to the Thuthuzela Care Centre if you have been
and you are likely to have psychological as well as physical
after-effects. You might want to see a counsellor if you have
been raped, and this is a good idea.
Getting access to a counsellor often depends on where you
live and what services are close to you. There may be a
Thuthuzela Care Centre where you can receive counselling
from a psychologist, nurse or social worker. Organisations
such as Rape Crisis also provide support and counselling
after rape, and you can call the Lifeline national helpline.
Challenges in service provision to
survivors of GBV
After surviving an act of GBV such as rape, you can get help
from the police, public clinics and hospitals, and the courts.
Good quality service from these institutions is very important
in helping to bring about justice, as well as in supporting
survivors so that they can carry on with their lives.
(contacts are listed at the end of this guide). However, it
Unfortunately, there are a lot of problems with these
is true that there is not enough counselling provided for
services, and survivors who do try to access them may
survivors of GBV and rape, especially if you live in rural or
experience secondary trauma. Despite very high levels of
hard-to-reach areas.
rape and HIV/AIDS, studies indicate that no more than 30%
of staff caring for rape survivors have received specialised
What is a Thuthuzela Care Centre?
A ‘Thuthuzela’ is a one stop facility for survivors of sexual
and other forms of GBV. The aim of Thuthuzela Care Centres
training on assisting rape survivors. Some of the problems
experienced by survivors include:
is to reduce secondary trauma for the victim, improve the
of how to respond sensitively and appropriately to
rate of conviction of perpetrators, and to reduce the time it
survivors of GBV. For example, they may fail to take
takes to convict a perpetrator.
your case as seriously as they should, or they may
fail to take you to a private space where they can take
When Thuthuzela Care Centres are working properly, a rape
survivor is taken in an ambulance with a trained volunteer
who gives her comfort and counselling. In the Thuthuzela
Care Centre, you should find a quiet, private space, a
doctor ready to do the examination, counselling, and the
Police may have too little knowledge and awareness
opportunity to take a bath or shower after the examination
and to change into clean clothes. After this, the investigating
down your statement confidentially.
The process of taking an alleged perpetrator (the
suspected rapist) to trial and successfully convicting
him is long and hard, and very emotional for the
If you have been raped
Health workers may be unsympathetic, judgemental
and impatient to survivors of GBV. In a study of sexual
assault service provision, one in three health workers
said they did not consider rape to be a serious medical
There is little privacy and confidentiality during the rape
Health workers are not properly trained in how to
examine and treat rape survivors.
There are poor referral systems, as well as poor
The waiting period for rape examinations at the health
counselling services for rape survivors and their
facility can be very long.
There are delays in providing medical treatment such
PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis).
Often rape cases are dropped or somehow lost from the
criminal justice system, before the trial’s conclusion.
Part 2: National Policy Guidelines
for the Department of Health
Understanding the National
The health care professional should obtain consent
from the survivor to collect medical evidence and
submit it to court. He/she should then take all
The National Policy Guidelines recognise that the
necessary samples, record his/her or findings, and
Department of Health plays an important role in the
submit the findings to the court.
criminal justice system with regard to sexual offences. The
Department accordingly needs to develop processes in
professional should refer the survivor for emergency
order to provide the court with physical and psychological
medical treatment if necessary and for treatment for
evidence on the survivor’s condition and to provide the
sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy. The
necessary medical evidence to assist courts in prosecuting
survivor should also be referred for HIV testing and
the perpetrator successfully. As a survivor, a community
activist, or health worker, it is important that you
understand the National Guidelines so that you can make
After the medical examination, the health care
The health care professional should assist the survivor
sure they are observed if you decide to take action about a
in regard to referral to hospitals and must ensure that
case of sexual assault.
the necessary medical certificates are provided to the
survivor for purposes of absenteeism from school or
The National Guidelines state that:
The health care professional should assume that
to have specialised training and skills in order to be
committed against her is true and should treat survivors
qualified to assist survivors. Those who do not have
with dignity.
these qualifications may still assist survivors, but they
must keep comprehensive records so they can give
The healthcare professional must provide services to
evidence at court during the trial.
the survivor, regardless of whether the survivor has, or
plans to, report the rape to the police.
survivor presents herself to the health care professional.
Prior to the medical examination, the health care
professional should introduce herself/himself to the
survivor and explain her/his qualifications. The health
care professional should obtain information from the
survivor on her medical history and the alleged sexual
offence. The statement by the survivor regarding the
event will not be as detailed as that made by the
police and the health care professional’s notes should
state this. This is to ensure that the differences in the
Medical services should be available to survivors 24
hours a day and the survivor must be assisted with
The health care professional should conduct the
minimal delay.
medical examination as soon as possible after the
Health care professionals who assist survivors need
the survivor’s allegation that a sexual offence was
The health care professional should deal with the
survivor in a sensitive manner and take steps to ensure
that the survivor does not experience secondary
victimisation or trauma.
What is gender-based
violence (GBV)?
GBV is any act of violence that is committed because of
someone’s gender – if they are a woman or a man.
survivor’s statements do not cause issues at trial.
GBV includes acts of physical, sexual and psychological
The health care professional should explain the criminal
violence. These can be committed by strangers, and also
procedures to the survivor, as well as the survivor’s right
by people we know, such as boyfriends or husbands, family
to lay a charge against the perpetrator. He/she should
members, and neighbours. Childhood sexual abuse, sexual
also explain how the medical examination will be
harassment, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and
conducted and what the purpose of the examination
forced marriage (for example, ‘Ukuthwala’) are all forms of
is. Such information should be explained in a language
GBV. The most prevalent form of GBV is that which occurs
understood by the survivor.
between intimate partners.
National Policy
The acts of GBV we are mostly concerned with here, and are
offences, sexual acts or self-masturbation
most common in South Africa, are acts of violence against
women. Acts of violence towards women and children are,
at some level, generally accepted by our society.
The definition of rape and consent
into the anus or genital organs of the victim, or the genital
engaging the sexual services of persons 18 years or
older for financial or other reward
exposing or displaying, or causing the exposure or
display of child pornography or pornography to children
organs of an animal are put into the mouth or organs of a
victim. (A man’s genital organs are his penis and testicles. A
exposing or displaying child pornography to persons 18
years or older
permission. Rape also includes an act such as when
someone puts their finger or any object like a stick or a bottle
exposing or displaying genital organs, anus or female
Rape is when someone puts their genital organs into the
mouth, anus or genital organs of a victim, without their
compelling or causing someone to witness sexual
compelled rape (compelled rape occurs when one
person forces another to sexually penetrate someone
woman’s genital organs are her vagina, labia and clitoris.)
else against their will)
The new Sexual Offences Act that came out in 2007 has
made ‘rape’ mean more things than it used to. One of the
assault someone else against their will)
changes to the law on sexual offences brought about by the
Act relates to rape.
compelled self-sexual assault (forcing someone to
masturbate themselves, to act in a way that is sexually
Previously, according to the Act, only a man could rape a
arousing or degrading. Forcing someone to penetrate
woman by forcefully penetrating her vagina with his penis
their own genitals or anus, either with a finger or an
without the woman’s consent. Now it is acknowledged that
people of the same sex can rape each other by use of genital
compelled sexual assault (forcing another to sexually
organs or objects.
The Sexual Offences Act also states that all forms of sexual
Sexual offences against children
abuse or exploitation are crimes, and that both men and
A child under the age of 12 is too young to give his or
women are considered to be victims and perpetrators of
her permission to become involved in any sexual act.
rape. The Act also states that rape victims must get antiretroviral drugs like PEP to prevent them from being infected
with HIV.
incest (forcing a relative to engage in sexual acts)
This means that a sexual act with a child under 12 is
automatically a crime. Boys and girls can consent to sex
from the age of 16 but if they did not give consent, then a
case of rape or sexual assault should be opened.
Sexual assault
Statutory rape is when children between the ages of 12
Sexual assault includes the act of touching the genitals,
and 16 experience sexual penetration into their genitals or
anus or female breasts of any person of any age without
anus. Even if the child was willing to consent to the act,
their consent, for example:
and the perpetrator is over 16, the older person can still be
touching a woman’s breasts
kissing someone
touching someone’s body in any way that causes sexual
inserting an object that resembles human or animal
genitals, for example, a dildo.
charged. For example, if Babalwa is 14 years of age and
agrees to have sex with Vuyo, who is older than 18 years,
Vuyo has committed the sexual offence of consensual sexual
penetration with a child.
Committing a sexual act with a child between 12 and
16 years of age, without the child’s consent, amounts to
statutory rape or sexual assault. For example, if Tania is 13
years of age and Benjamin, who is older than 18 years,
Other kinds of sexual offences in relation to adults aged 18
forces her to have sex with him, Benjamin has committed a
or older include:
criminal sexual offence.
When two children under the age of 16 have consensual
humiliates, degrades, abuses or violates the sexual
sex, this can still be a crime. The two children should not be
integrity of the complainant
arrested but may be summoned to appear in court after an
investigation has taken place. For example, if two children
aged between 12 and 16 years engage in penetrative sex
emotional, verbal and psychological abuse
intimidation, which is when a threat is made or
conveyed which causes fear to the complainant
with each other, they can both be charged with ‘statutory
rape’. However, to prevent prosecutions of children that
are unnecessary or that do not make sense, the decision to
abuser takes away his partner’s money; refuses to
prosecute the children must be authorised by the National
provide enough money for household expenses; does
Director of Public Prosecutions.
not pay maintenance for the children even when he
can afford to; or abandons or threatens to abandon his
Sexual offences against children (under the age of 16)
partner when he finds out her HIV status is positive
sexual exploitation of children, when a person engages
harassment, which includes repeatedly watching the
complainant or loitering outside or near the area where
the services of a child with or without his/her consent
the complainant is; repeatedly making telephone calls
for financial and other reward, favour or compensation
or getting someone else to make telephone calls to the
sexual grooming of children
complainant (whether or not a conversation happens);
exposure or display of child pornography or
or repeatedly contacting the complainant via letter,
telegram, package, facsimile, electronic mail or other
pornography to children
using children for pornographic purposes or benefiting
from child pornography.
Any person who is 16 years of age, or older, can consent to
stalking, which includes following, pursuing or
accosting the complainant
a sexual act with another person who is 16 years of age, or
damage to property
entering the home or part of the home without the
Domestic violence
Domestic violence occurs in many different ways within a
complainant’s permission
sexual, emotional, psychological and economic.
The Domestic Violence Act of 1998 provides South Africa
with its first legal definition of domestic violence. The Act
creates a protection order that prohibits the abuser (or
respondent) and anyone acting on their behalf from engaging
any other abusive, controlling behavior which harms, or
may cause harm to the safety health or wellbeing of the
marriage or dating relationship. Such abuse can be physical,
Protection from harassment
The purpose of the Protection from Harassment Act (2010)
is to:
afford all persons in South Africa the rights to equality,
in acts of physical, sexual, emotional, psychological and
privacy, dignity, to freedom and security, which includes
economic abuse. The Act commits the government to the
the right to be free from all forms of violence from either
elimination of domestic violence. In this guide, when we
public or private sources and the rights of children to
refer to the ‘complainant’ we are talking about the person
have their best interests considered to be of paramount
who has been abused and wants to seek protection from
that abuse.
The Act defines the following as domestic
economic abuse, which includes situations where an
physical abuse, including threats of physical abuse
sexual abuse, which includes any action that
afford victims of harassing behaviour an effective
remedy against such behaviour through providing for
the issuing of protection orders against harassment
introduce measures which seek to enable to relevant
organs of state to give full effect to the provisions of the
National Policy
Under the Act ‘harassment’ means directly or indirectly
South Africa has some of the world’s highest rates of GBV.
engaging in conduct that causes harm or inspires the
As many as one out of every two women will experience
reasonable belief that harm may be caused to the
some form of abuse in their lifetimes. In a recent study of
complainant or a related person by unreasonably:
1 394 men working for three Cape Town municipalities,
a. following, watching, pursuing or accosting the
complainant or a related person, or loitering outside of
or near the building or place where the complainant or
a related person resides, works, carries on business,
studies or happens to be;
b. engaging in verbal, electronic or any other
communication aimed at the complainant or a related
person, by any means, whether or not conversation
ensues; or
c. sending, delivering or causing the delivery of letters,
approximately 44% admitted to abusing their female
partners. Another study found that one woman was killed
every six hours by her intimate partner (husband or
boyfriend). In a report on male violence against women,
42% of men disclosed that they had abused their intimate
partner and 28% of men disclosed rape of a woman or girl.
South Africa’s rate of rape has been found to be the highest
in the world. In 2006/2007, the South African Police
Service (SAPS) received 52 617 reports of rape. This figure
is probably not an accurate version of the true extent of rape,
because sexual offences are often under-reported.
telegrams, packages, facsimiles, electronic mail or other
objects to the complainant or a related person or leaving
A representative community-based survey in South Africa
it where it will be found by or given to, or brought to the
found that in the 17–48 age group there are 2 070
attention of, the complainant or a related person.
sexual assaults per 100 000 women per year; that is,
approximately 1 in 5 women. The highest risk group for
Under the Protection from Harassment and Domestic
sexual assault are teenagers and young women. More than
Violence Act, survivors of harassment and domestic violence
a third of girls have experienced sexual abuse before the
may apply to the Magistrate’s Court to have a protection
age of 18 (for example, unwanted touching, forced sex or
order issued. Such an order may be handed down against
being exploited into sex by much older men).
any person who engages in prohibited activities such as
stalking, persistent electronic messaging, sexual harassment
Sexual assault among men has not been the subject of
and any other behaviour calculated to cause psychological
much research and may be equally or more underreported.
and/or other kinds of harm to the victim. A protection order
is intended to interdict and restrain the perpetrator from
engaging in the unwelcome conduct.
Whilst GBV is an issue that affects everyone, it is often the
case that poor, undeveloped areas such as townships and
deep rural villages experience the highest levels of GBV.
Information on how to apply for a protection order is also
Here, many children lack care and protection and therefore
provided in this guide under the section on ‘What can I do if
are more vulnerable to sexual abuse. Inadequate safety and
the perpetrator continues to abuse or harass me?’
security services, such as street lights or police presence,
can increase the vulnerability of people living in these areas
How big is the problem of
GBV in South Africa?
The facts and figures quoted below have been taken from
to violence. Additionally, high levels of unemployment can
increase feelings of frustration, dissempowerment and
depression, which can fuel acts of violence against women
and children.
a variety of sources, which are listed at the end under
Tantaswa Ndlelana, TAC member and
national administrator
‘One in every two South African women is
sexually assaulted in their lifetime. Some
women don’t report rape and abuse cases
because they are afraid of losing financial
support. As women we have rights and men
have to respect those rights the same way
they want their rights to be respected.’
Part 3: Laying a charge of rape
Laying a Charge
Deciding whether to report
a rape to the police
The staff in these units receive specialised training in dealing
In this section we will explain about laying a charge of rape,
may arrest the perpetrator.
getting a protection order for domestic abuse and getting an
with family violence. Violence in the family is a crime like
any other, and the police must listen to your complaint, and
the police can affect you in many different ways, and you
Why should I lay a charge against the
should consider it carefully. Reporting sexual offences can be
There are some good reasons for laying a charge against
an empowering experience that helps the survivor to begin
the perpetrator. One reason is that you may have been the
to heal, but it can also be painful or even traumatic, and you
victim of a serial-rapist in the area, and the police need
may find it difficult to report your experience to the police.
to know about this. Another reason is that you can take
eviction order. Deciding whether or not to make a report to
When it goes well, the police are sensitive to the victim, and
the perpetrator is arrested, brought to court and prosecuted.
This sends a message to the community that sexual
offences are criminal acts and will be punished. However,
action in seeking justice against the perpetrator, which can
be empowering and assist in your own healing process
after the rape. If he is successfully prosecuted, he will be
sent to prison, and you will reduce the danger for other
sometimes the police and other officials are insensitive and
potential victims. Remember that the prosecutor needs
poorly trained in how to deal with traumatic experiences like
your help during the legal process of proving the guilt of the
gender-based violence (GBV) and rape. You may also have
perpetrator. The survivor is often the most powerful source
to talk about your experience in front of several people.
of evidence that the prosecutor has. Your courage in coming
In addition, the legal process is long and slow – it takes
months or even years to reach court and you may need to
make many appearances in court. The result of the trial
depends very much on your involvement as the survivor
in helping the police to do their job. You can be supported
through this process with counselling and legal advice,
should you choose to go ahead with it.
forward and working with the prosecutor during the case can
result in a successful conviction.
Steps involved in laying a charge
If you are going to open a case against your abuser, you
should go to the police station and make a statement.
This is your story about what happened. If you are feeling
traumatised, the police will only take a short statement,
Remember, it is your choice to file a case against a
and then follow up later. It is your right to report the rape
perpetrator, and to give consent for the medical examination,
to the police. When you lay a charge of rape, it means that
which is necessary to get the legal evidence for your case.
you want the police to investigate the case and arrest the
Decide whether you want to report the attack to the police.
You may not feel like making this decision so soon after
being raped. However, the sooner a doctor examines you,
the more chance there is that she or he will find strong proof
like blood or semen on your body or clothes, which will help
It’s your right to give your statement to the police in a private
room, where you feel safe and have confidentiality. This is
sometimes called the victim empowerment room.
result in a conviction if you lay a charge.
If you are a woman, you can ask for a female police officer
The Family Violence, Child Protection and
Sexual Offences Unit
to take your statement, and the same applies if you are a
Because family violence is so common in our country, the
It is your right to say who you want in the room while you
police have a special unit dealing especially with family
make your statement, provided that person is not a witness
violence, the protection of children and sexual offences. It
to the rape, in which case he/she will also be asked to make
is called the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual
a statement in a private room. It is a good idea to bring a
Offences Unit (FCS Unit). Many police stations have
friend or family member, whom you know and trust, for
detectives trained by an FCS Unit.
You have a right to speak in your first language. Remember
If you report a sexual offence to the police by telephone, the
to try to give the full story of what happened and read the
police must obtain the address of where you are phoning
statement over and check that you agree with everything it
from and establish whether you are in any danger. He/she
says. If you want, you can ask for a copy of the statement.
must send a patrol vehicle to where you are as soon as
How should the police
respond to me as a
survivor of GBV?
Under the national policy guidelines for the police there are
certain standards and actions that must be observed, and
that you should expect when you file a case of GBV such
as sexual assault. Remember that at all times you must be
treated with respect, empathy and professionalism. The
following guidelines for the police will help you to demand
decent services.
possible, to secure the crime scene and assist you.
The police must also help you to identify where counselling
services can be obtained and must assist in obtaining such
During the court proceedings, the police must keep you
informed of any progress with the case and must explain the
court proceedings to you.
What do I do if the police fail to act?
The police are supposed to act respectfully, to inform you
of your rights and help you through the process of laying a
A police officer is not allowed to tell you that you cannot lay
charge. However, it is realistic to expect that sometimes they
a charge, or that you do not have enough proof. The police
might not take you or your traumatic experience seriously.
must accept and acknowledge the allegations that you have
Police are often poorly trained in how to deal with rape cases
made. There’s no time limit to laying a charge either.
and can be disbelieving and insensitive.
The first police officer who arrives at the scene or to whom
you report must introduce herself/himself to you and explain
What do I do if the police fail to open a docket?
his/her role in the investigation. He/she must treat you
If the police fail to open a docket, remember that it is your
confidentially and privately, and establish whether you are
right to lay a charge against a perpetrator. Ask for a senior
capable of laying a charge. In other words, you must be in
officer or the station commissioner. If this does not work,
the physical, psychological or emotional condition to lay a
report any unfair or inappropriate treatment by police
charge. After this, he /she will open a docket containing your
officials to the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD).
basic details.
(See contact list at the end of this guide for a list of the ICD
The police officer should also assess whether you need
medical assistance right away, before taking your statement.
The police should transport you to the nearest health facility
or Thuthuzela care centre as soon as possible.
Remember, you can get a copy of the statement you give,
and the docket. This may be important if police officers lose
the original docket, or say they have lost it.
Remember, you have the right to report the rape to a health
going to the police if you do not want to report the matter to
What do I do if the police do not make an
effort to investigate the case?
The police should give you the contact details of the officer
The first police officer who you speak to will contact the
investigating your case. Make sure that they also have
facility and to receive all the health care you need without
investigating officer and must offer to stay with you until the
investigating officer arrives.
your correct contact details (phone number and address).
Remember, your case will be dropped if the police can’t get
hold of you. If you move, or change your contact numbers,
The investigating officer must register a case docket, arrange
any medical examinations that must take place, take a
you must inform the officer in charge of your case.
detailed statement from you and offer you support. He/
You will need to play an active role in following up with the
she should only take the statement once you are in the
police by contacting them or visiting the police station to
psychological, emotional and physical state to give it.
find out what progress has been made in the investigation.
Laying a Charge
You may need support if you are going to put pressure on
the criminal justice system so that you are updated on the
the police to investigate your case properly. Ask a friend or
progress of your case.
family member to accompany you. Find out if there are any
community based or non-government organisations in your
area that are involved with issues related to GBV, or are
fighting for human or legal rights of any kind. It will be good
if you can have their support, if you decide to take action
about your case.
What do I do if I feel re-traumatised because
police officials are rude or insensitive?
If the police have enough evidence, the perpetrator will be
arrested and charged, and the case will go to court. The
court will assign you a prosecutor who is responsible for
presenting the case against the perpetrator. When an arrest
is made, the accused is either kept in jail or granted bail,
depending on the decision of the magistrate. The accused
may apply for bail and will be released if his application
is successful. Your investigating officer must attend that
hearing, and you have the right to ask the prosecutor to
The police should take your statement in private. Each police
oppose bail, or to apply special conditions to keep the rapist
station is meant to have a trauma room for this purpose and
away from you.
you can ask for your statement to be taken by a woman.
If the police start to take your statement in a public place,
If your rapist contacts you when he is on bail, you should
you can ask to be taken somewhere private or to the victim
report this to the police and he should be arrested again. You
empowerment room. Remember it is your right not to give
should not be harassed by the rapist or any of his friends or
your statement, unless you feel comfortable.
family. The police should take action against any of them.
You can lodge a formal complaint if you think your case is
If the police are rude or insensitive, it can be traumatising
not being properly investigated (see more on page 33).
and it is a good idea to have a friend or a family member
with you.
When you speak to the police, remember that:
Nobody ‘deserves’ or ‘asks’ to be raped, no matter what
they wear, where they are, what they have done, or
whether they have been using drugs or alcohol. It is not
your fault that it happened to you.
Rape is an abuse of your human and sexual rights and
it is against the law.
For more information on how to take action when the police
and other state actors have failed to do their duty to you as
If the rapist is out on bail and goes
against bail conditions by trying
to contact you, threaten you or
sending relatives to ‘negotiate
a settlement’ with your family,
inform your investigating officer
a survivor of GBV, or have mistreated or abused you in any
way, please see page 33 of this guide.
What happens after I report a case of
The police should keep giving you information about the
progress of the case, including whether your rapist is
arrested and whether he gets bail.
The trial
Remember, your courage in coming forward and pursuing
a case can drive the process and result in the conviction
If you have opened a case with the police, you will be
of the perpetrator. Even though you may be made to feel
contacted by a SAPS investigating officer (IO), who is
insignificant during the court proceedings, or as if your
responsible for collecting evidence to prove the guilt of
feelings don’t matter, it is your evidence that can give the
the attacker(s). If you have not been contacted within two
state the opportunity to find the accused guilty and to
days, you should try to get in touch with the police and
punish him.
Preparing for the trial
It is a good idea to get counselling and legal advice
both before and during the trial proceedings. Look for
organisations that have victim support programmes like
Rape Crisis or your nearest Thuthuzela Care Centre or
Legal Advice centre. You will find a list of these centres and
their contact details at the back of this guide. An advisor
or counsellor who is trained to support victims of GBV and
sexual assault can help prepare you for the trial, by helping
you to prepare the statement that you must give in court and
to think ahead to the trial procedure, so that you know what
to expect.
Once you know the date and location of the trial, you can
phone the court to find out the name of the prosecutor. Ask
to speak to the regional court control prosecutor: this person
deals with administration and should be able to tell you who
will actually be prosecuting the case. Once you know who
the prosecutor will be, you can make contact with her or
him to discuss specific issues about the case. It is important
to arrange a consultation with the prosecutor before the trial,
so that you can discuss your statement in detail. If there are
any mistakes in your statement, you must point these out to
the prosecutor before going into court.
You will need to testify in front of a magistrate, whose
job it is to remain impartial and who will not necessarily
show you a sympathetic manner. You will also be facing
the accused who committed the offence against you. You
will be cross-examined, which can be upsetting but will be
easier if you are well-prepared. You need to be able to give
a clear and detailed description of what happened when
you were assaulted sexually and/or physically. You may find
the experience of appearing in court re-traumatising, due to
being faced by your perpetrator and because of the crossexamination, but there are steps you can take to prepare for
and minimise this.
Unfortunately, the severity of the impact of rape on
someone’s life is often misunderstood and underestimated,
even by magistrates. It can, therefore, be helpful to the court
if the survivor prepares a statement that gives details about
all the aspects of her life that have changed as a result of
the rape. Whoever gives you advice or counselling to prepare
for the trial can also help you to prepare your victim impact
If you do not know of any organisation that provides victim
support, you can ask a family member or friend to assist you
to prepare your victim impact statement and the testimony
you must give in court. It is advisable to ask the prosecutor
to check and review your victim impact statement before
your case goes to trial. The prosecutor will also help you to
go over your original statement that you made to the police.
You can ask him/her to show you the court room and where
you will stand to give your testimony. This may help you
prepare psychologically for the trial.
What happens when my case goes to
Your case will first be taken to the District Court, and
if there is sufficient evidence against the accused it will
proceed to the Sexual Offences and Community Affairs
(SOCA) Court. The accused will either plead guilty or not
guilty. You will not always be required to attend court, as
sometimes the purpose of the meetings is administrative (for
example, to set a date for the hearing). The investigating
officer will tell you when you must attend. You are allowed
to review or amend your official statement at any time. If you
do not hear from your investigating officer, you may want to
take action against him or her.
The magistrate is the presiding officer in the case. If the
accused pleads guilty, then the magistrate will decide on an
appropriate sentence or punishment. The sentence might
include community service, fines or time in jail.
If the accused pleads not guilty, then the case will go to
trial. The magistrate will listen to all of the evidence from
both sides, and will then decide if there is enough proof to
find the accused guilty, based on evidence submitted by the
prosecutor and the testimony of witnesses. If the prosecutor
does not believe there is enough evidence to convict your
attacker, she/he may withdraw the case, or return it to the
police for further investigation. If this happens, you may
require legal assistance or advice to take the case forwards.
A case may be remanded (delayed) during the court
process. There are many reasons for remands and they
can be caused by the prosecutor, the defence attorney or
the court. When a case is remanded, a later court date
is decided for the case to resume. If this happens more
than twice, you should seek legal advice or assistance. (At
the end of this guide we have provided contact details of
organisations that can provide legal advice or assistance in
your province.)
Laying a Charge
The accused will be in the courtroom throughout the trial.
This is one of the most frightening aspects of the trial for
the survivor. It’s helpful if you remember that, because of
your courage in reporting the crime, the accused is facing
investigating officers have large case load
court rolls are often full
there are failures and inadequacies within the criminal
justice system.
the consequences of his actions: and if the court finds him
guilty, he might go to jail.
At the trial you will be called as a witness and you will have
to give evidence about the rape. You will sit in the witness
You can help your case by making sure that you stay in
contact with your investigating officer:
box opposite the prosecutor, and you will be able to see the
accused. In rare cases, the survivor can give her testimony
in a closed room via CCTV (closed circuit television), which
that he/she knows where to find you at all times.
in the courtroom. You can do this in any language you feel
find out about what will happen in court.
happen if you participate.
about what will be involved. You can also find out about the
rape survivors in your area.
to go. This is called an acquittal. It does not mean that the
court is saying the accused did not do it and that you are
lying. It only means they could not be completely sure that
he did commit the rape. They cannot convict him, unless
they are completely sure.
You may also lodge a formal complaint with the police
if you feel that your case is not being investigated
If the magistrate decides the accused is not guilty, then he
will be released from the custody of the court and be free
If you don’t attend court hearings that were scheduled,
your case may be thrown out of court. Justice can only
comfortable speaking. The prosecutor should talk to you
process from the non-governmental organisations that help
Your investigating officer will inform you when your case
is going to court. You can also meet the prosecutor and
means she does not have to see the accused. However, most
survivors will, unfortunately, have to give their testimony
Phone him/her at least once a month, and make sure
What can I do if the
perpetrator continues to
abuse or harass me?
Applying for a protection order
If you are subjected to any form of continuing abuse, you
If the accused is found guilty of the crime, he will be
have the right to apply for a protection order under the
convicted and the magistrate will then decide on a sentence.
Domestic Violence Act and Protection from Harassment
Act. You can request this from a magistrate’s court near
You can still bring a civil case to seek compensation, even if
to where you or your abuser lives. This order stipulates
the accused is not convicted in a criminal case, as the civil
what the abuser may not do. If the abuser commits an
court looks at evidence in a different way. You may want to
act of abuse, the protection order means the abuser can be
get advice on this (see page 32 for more details).
Other key people working on your case are the defence
lawyer whose job it is to ensure that their client (the
What is a protection order?
accused) is not found guilty. If the accused is found guilty,
A protection order is a court order under the Domestic
the defence lawyer will try to ensure that he gets the lowest
Violence Act 116 of 1998 which can tell an abuser:
possible sentence.
against you
A major concern for survivors in the build-up to the trial is
the long waiting period for a trial date to be set. A speedy
legal outcome would help rape survivors to feel that they can
move on with their lives, but this doesn’t happen very often.
not to ask others to commit acts of abuse against you
not to enter particular parts of the house (that you don’t
want him to enter)
It also often happens that on the date set for trial the case is
postponed. The legal process is slow because:
not to commit specified acts of domestic violence
not to enter, or stop you from entering or leaving, the
family home, your home or workplace, even if the
abuser is the one who is paying for that home
to provide compensation for your financial losses as a
result of domestic violence
Civil litigation
Besides using the criminal justice system, a survivor of
sexual violence can also sue an offender for damages in
civil law. This means that a survivor can sue an offender
to have no contact or only specified contact with your
for compensation for monetary losses (including hospital
and medical expenses, loss of income or earnings, future
A protection order can also tell the police to:
assist you to find shelter and medical treatment
provide an escort to fetch your belongings
take away the abuser’s gun or other dangerous
hospital and medical expenses) and for pain and suffering,
including psychological trauma and stress. In instituting a
claim for damages against the offender, it is important that
the offender actually has money to compensate the survivor.
If he does not have money, there is no use in instituting a
A survivor can also institute a claim against the perpetrator
Who can apply for a protection order?
One of the partners in a couple who is married, divorced,
separated or living together (whether of the same or opposite
sex) can apply for a protection order against the other
partner. The following people can also apply:
children, against their parents/abusers
one partner, against abusive in-laws
the aged, against their abusers.
A counsellor, health service provider, member of the South
African Police Service, social worker or teacher, who has
a material interest in the wellbeing of the abused, can
also apply for a protection order on behalf of the abused,
provided that the abused gives consent.
What happens if the abuser ignores the
protection order?
1. The victim must call the police and provide the warrant
number issued against the abuser. Once the arrest
warrant has been used, the victim should go back to
the court to get another one. The victim will need a
second warrant in case the abuser harms the victim
2. The abuser will then be arrested or given a notice to
appear in court.
3. The abuser can be fined and sent to prison for up to five
in the Equality Court for the violation of her rights, or she
can sue the perpetrator for money for the harm that she
suffered due to the sexual offence. In instituting such a
claim, the survivor must be able to prove that the sexual
offence amounted to unfair discrimination on the basis of
gender, sex, sexual orientation, or on another ground covered
in the Equality Act 4 of 2000. If this cannot be proven, the
case will not succeed. Accordingly, this sort of claim is not
suitable in all cases of rape.
You should seek good legal advice to assess whether the
case will succeed, before instituting a claim. In order to win
a case you must be able to prove the allegations that you
have made and must comply with the requirements for the
type of claim that you want to institute against the offender.
Lawyers’ fees may be expensive and often survivors cannot
afford to pay these fees. It is important to know that free
legal advice and assistance is provided by many public
interest and non-profit organisations.
You can also seek assistance at Legal Aid Boards, also
called justice centres. Legal Aid Boards help people who
cannot afford lawyers to defend their cases in court, whether
criminal or civil. Legal aid is paid for by the Department of
Justice and Constitutional Development. The client pays
a small part of the fee. There is a Legal Aid Board in most
towns. If there isn’t a Legal Aid Board in your town, go to
your nearest magistrate’s court and ask to see the Legal Aid
Officer. He or she will help you fill out the correct forms.
Most cities have advice offices staffed by paralegals.
Although they are not lawyers, paralegals know a lot about
Laying a Charge
the law. They can give advice and help you with letters or
relevant Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions at the
prosecution authority closest to where you are located.
If you are dissatisfied with her/his response you can
A list of legal organisations and their contact details are
lodge a complaint with the National Director of Public
provided at the end of the guide.
What can I do to take action
if the state fails to assist me
as a survivor?
In cases where the state fails to do what it is required to in
terms of law, you can lay a complaint or take legal action.
Below is an explanation of how to lay a complaint against
a state, employee or institution:
If the police fail to do what they are required to
do in terms of the Sexual Offences Act, National
Policy Guidelines, National Instructions or Victim’s
Charter, you can lodge a complaint with the Station
Commissioner of the police station where the police
member is based, or you can lodge a complaint with
the Independent Complaints Directorate (the ICD) office
closest to where you live. The ICD has specifically been
set up to deal with complaints against police members.
If the health care professional or any of the other
In cases where a police member commits a sexual
staff members of the hospital fail to do what they
offence against you, the ICD will investigate the case
are required to do in terms of the National Policy
against the police member. The contact numbers of the
Guidelines, National Instructions or Victim’s Charter,
various ICD offices are provided at the end of the guide.
a complaint can be lodged with the supervisor of the
Following your complaint, an investigation into the conduct
clinic or hospital where you were seen. Additionally, you
of the employee or institution will be undertaken and
can lay a complaint against a doctor with the Health
disciplinary action may be taken against the individual for
Professionals Council of Southern Africa or against a
which the complaint was laid.
nurse with the South African Nursing Council (contacts
are listed at the end of this guide). If you are also
pursuing civil litigation against the healthcare worker,
then the relevant Council may not act, deferring their
decision to the judgement of the courts.
As well as laying a compliant, you can sue the state for
damages for its failure to uphold and protect your rights.
This is called state liability. For example, if the police refused
to allow you to lay a charge or the prosecutor did not oppose
the perpetrator’s bail application and, while he was out on
If the prosecutor fails to do what is required of her/
bail he raped you again, the state can be sued for damages.
him in terms of the National Policy Guidelines or
Again, you should seek out legal advice from Legal Aid
Victims Charter, you can lodge a complaint with the
Boards or public interest and non-profit organisations.
Catherine Tomlinson, TAC researcher
‘Too often the police and courts fail to
protect and uphold the rights of people
who have experienced rape and violence.
However, in many districts, the tireless
activism of TAC branches has led to the
successful prosecution of perpetrators of
rape in their communities. By knowing
your rights you can demand that they are
upheld and protected.’
Part 4: How can I respond as a partner,
family member or friend of a survivor?
How do I respond?
Emotional and practical
As a partner, relative, friend or colleague of a woman who
has survived sexual or domestic violence, you may feel it’s
Give her time to heal.
Make sure she knows you are open to talking about the
so that her feelings that the world has completely
easier to stay silent. You might be worried that you’re going
changed are not reinforced.
to say the wrong thing or upset her further. DON’T keep
quiet! There are many different ways that you can support
Encourage her to look after herself by washing, dressing
and eating properly.
her both emotionally and practically, as well as taking action
in your community.
Keep the normal rules and rhythms of the household,
Unless she is very young, let her make decisions about
her life, and about how to cope and establish a sense of
What you should tell a survivor:
You believe her. It will have taken a lot of courage for
safety. This is essential for regaining control.
for you, as a parent or partner, also to have strong
continuing to experience. And respect her privacy: don’t
feelings in reaction to the rape, including wanting to
tell anyone else unless she has agreed to it.
react with violence towards the perpetrator. It is not
acceptable, however, to act on these feelings.
She is not to blame for the rape. No matter the
circumstances, no one ever has the right to abuse or
You still love her.
You want to be there for her, to listen to her problems
encourage her to use condoms after rape.
As a partner, you need to acknowledge difficulties with
sex, trust and intimacy after rape, and the commonly
want to help make her feel good.
Support her to take her medication, to attend follow-up
visits at the clinic, and, if you are her sexual partner,
and support and protect her.
You want her to love and look after herself and you
Suggest that she uses techniques such as writing down
her feelings and thoughts, to help her to process them.
rape, and no one deserves to be raped.
Acknowledge your own feelings. Remember, it is alright
her to have told you what she has experienced or is
felt need of survivors to spend time re-establishing
sexual intimacy in a way that feels safe. If you aren’t
Healing takes time.
sure how she feels, talk about it. If your sexual
attraction towards your partner has also been affected
What you should do:
because of the rape, talk to someone about your
Listen and try to understand. It is very helpful when
someone listens and supports a survivor through
difficult times. Learn about abuse and how it affects
in the immediate family, who are aware of what
give you information on how she might be feeling, and
took place, to discuss their feelings about what has
what you can do to help.
happened. Siblings who are distressed about what
happened should be encouraged to show love and
Show love and admiration with words and touches, as
support to the survivor.
long as she feels OK about being touched.
Allow her to express her emotions and, if she wants
don’t take this as a sign that she wasn’t raped; different
people respond to rape in different ways. She could be
dealing with delayed shock, or feelings of denial.
If she experiences depression for a long time, or seems
suicidal, encourage her to see a counsellor or medical
Help the survivor to get professional help from a
counsellor or psychotherapist, if this is what she wants.
to cry, give her the space to do so. If she doesn’t cry,
As parents, you must provide time for other children
survivors – there are many resources to read that will
Some things that you, as parents or partner,
should tell yourself:
I am not to blame for what has happened.
I might feel anger, frustration, sadness and pain
because someone I care about has been hurt. I need to
make sure I remember to take time to care for myself
Here are some steps to follow:
and have someone to talk to.
Decide on a course of action together and help her to
I cannot guarantee that the world will be safe and I am
seek professional help, for example health services and
not a bad person because of this.
counselling. She might want to go to a women’s shelter or
Remember that every survivor takes a different amount
of time to heal emotionally after rape or another form of
gender-based violence (GBV). Some do so quickly and
some take years. Rape survivors need their supporters to be
patient and give them the time and support that they need.
What can I do to help a
survivor through the legal/
criminal justice process?
advice centre, especially if she was abused by someone that
she knows.
Help her to take action against the violence she has
experienced. The South African Constitution and the
Domestic Violence Act make it clear that women have a right
to live their lives healthily and free of violence. Read up on
the issue, and take advantage of these laws.
Demand justice for the survivor: Demand that the
government meet its obligations to safety and security. The
South African Constitution and other laws make it very
clear that the government has an obligation to ensure safety
As someone who wants to help a survivor, you can become
for all, and to arrest, prosecute and convict perpetrators
more informed about what assistance she will need and help
of domestic and sexual violence. However, the police and
her through the difficult and long process of laying a charge
the criminal justice system often fail victims of violence.
against a perpetrator and testifying in court.
Accompany the survivor to court and help her to access her
rights. Put pressure on the police and the courts so that they
You can learn more about the healthcare that the survivor
needs, and the steps she needs to take to follow up on a
reported case of GBV. You will then be able to advise her
and, where necessary, fight for her rights to healthcare and
justice, so that this is not always up to her. For a survivor
who has just been traumatised, sharing this burden will be a
huge support. There may be non-profit organisations in your
area that can help you with this process.
When reporting a rape case does not go well, it can be
a traumatic experience, particularly if the police or other
officials are cold or unhelpful. For the victim to get back a
take decisive action.
Help her through the trial proceedings: If a survivor’s case
goes to trial, she will need support to prepare herself for
what is likely to be a gruelling and emotionally demanding
process. Help her to get counselling and legal advice
(contacts are listed at the end of this guide). She needs
to prepare a victim impact statement and to go over the
testimony she will give in court. She is likely to testify in
front of a dispassionate (objective) magistrate, to be crossexamined, and to be faced with the accused, her abuser.
You can give her emotional support and be there for her to
assist her during this process.
sense of power, control and safety, she or he needs care and
support. It can be helpful for someone supportive to go to
the police station with the victim when she decides to report
the abuse.
organisations: She doesn’t have to suffer alone, or in
silence. There are women’s centres and places of safety
she can contact in a case of emergency. There are also
Remember, you can support the survivor in her decision
organisations and telephone helplines that offer legal advice
about what to do, but you must not put any pressure on her
and counselling (contacts are listed at the end of this guide).
to make a particular decision, or when to make it. It is up
She may want you to go with her to visit these sources of
to the survivor to decide how to take her case forwards, and
Help her to access available services and other
it can be empowering for her to take action – so you should
Support her to lay charges if she chooses to: Domestic and
offer support where it is needed, rather than taking over
sexual violence are crimes. She has the right to lay a charge
of assault against the abuser, even if he is her partner. Ask
How do I respond?
her if she would like you to accompany her to the police
Insist the police take immediate action
station to lay the charge.
She has the right to report the rape to the police at any time
Help her to secure safety: If she continues to be at risk
of abuse from the perpetrator, help her to create a safe
environment for herself. She has the right to apply for a
protection order under the Domestic Violence Act. She can
request this from a magistrate’s court near to where she
or her abuser lives. This order stipulates what the abuser
and lay a charge. Discuss reporting the rape to the police,
and if she agrees, accompany her to the police station. She
could still be in a state of shock, so may welcome your
company when making her statement. If she wants another
friend there instead of you, respect her wishes and help her
get in touch with that person.
may NOT do. If the abuser commits an act of abuse, the
Familiarise yourself with the court processes
protection order means the abuser can be arrested. The
If she does report the rape, she will have to go through a
protection order is free and can also help the woman to
number of different procedures, particularly if the case goes
access medical treatment and find shelter.
to court. Take some time to learn about and understand
these processes and support her through them.
If the survivor has been raped:
Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP)
Take broader action
Despite our progressive constitution and our strong laws
Following a rape, it is critical that women access both the
against domestic and sexual violence, the police and
emergency contraceptive and a 28-day course of post-
criminal justice system continue to fail women. It is critical
exposure prophylaxis (PEP) to prevent HIV infection, within
that we participate in marches and rallies, demanding that
72 hours. Learn about these treatments and their possible
women and men all enjoy our constitutional right to safety
side effects. This will help you understand what she is going
and security. Read the section in this guide on community
through and how you might best support her to take PEP.
activism to demand appropriate service response to GBV.
Nomvuyo Ndiniso, TAC volunteer and
women sector chairperson
‘I am Nomvuyo Ndiniso, I am a volunteer
at TAC and the chairperson of the women
sector in my TAC district. When I look
back into my life as a child, I have no
fond memories but only that of pain
and heartache. I can remember that the
abuse got worse after my parents passed
away. I had feelings of hopelessness.
Things were not easy but I struggled and
finished school and today I am happily
married to a man that loves and respects
me. There is hope and life after abuse.’
Part 5: How can I respond to
GBV as a service provider?
Police officers, health and
other emergency workers
In addition:
needs in her language.
As a police officer or health worker involved in providing a
service for survivors of gender-based violence (GBV), your
informing her about her rights and helping her to access
prevent secondary trauma to the survivor, and also you
health care facility to prevent the offender from coming
into contact with the patient. The patient should not
have to wait in a public area at any stage while she is
You should refer to the National Policy Guidelines for the
in the facility.
police and Department of Health, so that you understand
Steps should be taken to prevent and treat
National Sexual Assault Policy and National Management
psychological distress and to help the survivor to access
Guidelines for Sexual Assault Care.
counselling and psychological care; if not at the facility,
then with a referral to other professionals.
Some of the most important points are the following:
Any allegation of rape or sexual assault must be
Rape victims must be counselled, inteviewed and
examined in a private room.
Health care should be provided immediately after sexual
assault. The patient should not be examined more than
physical distress to the survivor.
There should be proper follow-up arrangements in place
for the survivor.
Make sure that the evidence is kept secure and that
it is reported and given in court. Ideally, specimens
two hours after arrival in a health facility
The provision of medical certificates for sick leave
should take into account both psychological and
assumed to be true.
taken for evidence should be handed over to the SAPS
Victims are not allowed to wash before being seen by
immediately. If this is not possible, these should be
health practitioner.
kept in a secure space, and the location of the evidence
should be documented in the patient’s notes or protocol
Post-coital contraception and testing and emergency medical
treatment against STIs must be provided, with the informed
consent of the victim.
A female health worker should attend to a woman who
has been raped or abused, or should be present during an
examination by a male health worker.
There should be an effort to prevent re-victimisation.
This may include getting security personnel at the
will send out the message that GBV is not tolerated in our
the quality of services that survivors are entitled to under the
PEP and prevention and treatment of STIs should be
to pursue a successful conviction of the perpetrator. Being
respectful and ensuring safety and confidentiality will help
There should be emergency contraception available at
all facilities to prevent unwanted pregnancy.
health services and legal processes, you have the power to
help her to recover from the trauma of being abused and
Sexual assault examination kits should be available at
all facilities that provide sexual assault services.
role is very important. Through simple action, such as being
respectful and empathetic in your response to a survivor,
The survivor should have access to the information she
Support should also be available to service providers to
prevent the trauma they may also experience. Sexual
assault and other forms of GBV are very emotional
and traumatic cases to be dealing with, and service
providers who interact with the survivor may experience
Information about legal process and the right to lay a charge
‘vicarious trauma’. This is an important and serious
should be provided to every patient, and patients should be
condition, and all service providers should be provided
treated by a health practitioner, regardless of whether they
with the opportunity to de-brief regularly with a
want to lay a charge or not.
professional counsellor.
How can I respond to GBV as a service provider?
How do I respond to the survivor of GBV
as a police officer?
How do I respond to a survivor of GBV as
a health worker?
You are often the first point of contact for the survivor when
As a health worker, you have the important task of attending
she reports a case of sexual assault or domestic violence.
to the survivor’s physical state after she has been the
You have a very important role to play in assisting the
victim of an act of domestic or another form of violence, or
survivor to lay a charge against a perpetrator and to reach
rape. Remember that the survivor will have gone through a
a successful prosecution, and also in preventing secondary
traumatic event that will also make her psychologically and
trauma by observing certain standards of care.
emotionally vulnerable. Here are some important actions you
Remember that it is the survivor’s right to lay a charge, and
also to choose when she wants to do this. If she prefers to
can take to help her feel safer and more contained, and to
help prevent secondary trauma.
go to the health facility first, you must transport her there
When the survivor arrives at the health facility, she should
and take her statement only after she has received medical
be taken to a private waiting area where it is also possible
attention and/or counselling. If a victim is injured, she must
to lie down on a bed if she wants to. The survivor should not
go straight to the hospital. Health care workers can also start
have to sit or stand in a public waiting room. If your health
the police report there, or they can treat a victim without
facility has a Thuthuzela care centre, the survivor should be
filing a report.
taken straight there.
When the GBV survivor enters the police station she should
In cases of rape, the medico-legal examination can be
be treated with respect and dignity and taken to a safe,
painful and intrusive. If handled well, the secondary trauma
private space such as a victim empowerment room. If the
can be significantly reduced. Make sure that the survivor
survivor wants to file a case against the perpetrator, and
is well-informed about the purpose of the examination and
is in a fit state to do so, this is where you should take her
what will happen during it. It is very important that the
survivor gives consent to be examined. You should explain
Every police station should have a victim empowerment
room. If you do not have one you should campaign for one
to be established at your station.
It is very important that you assume the survivor’s reported
assault is true, and respond respectfully and in an unbiased
the purpose of the examination, and establish whether or not
the survivor wants to lay a charge against the perpetrator,
before asking for consent to do the rape examination.
For female victims, a female health-worker should do the
examination, or if one is not available, a female nurse or
counsellor should be present during the examination. Try to
communicate with the survivor during the examination. This
The survivor may be very upset and traumatised. It is
is a way of checking in on how she is feeling and also of
important not to take away from the experience she has
explaining different parts of the examination as you conduct
had, by saying things like, ‘You are lucky, you are still alive’.
it. This will help the survivor to feel more like she is being
Instead, try to recognise and acknowledge the shock and
treated as a human being who feels emotional and physical
pain she might be going through, express your compassion,
responses, and not like she is just a site for gathering legal
and help her to feel as safe and comfortable as possible.
If the survivor was abused by a male perpetrator, she may
Due to the trauma she has experienced, the survivor might
want her statement to be taken by a female police officer.
not be able to take in too much information. Explain
You can make sure one is available. This police officer
carefully how to take treatments like PEP and antibiotics,
should be with the survivor throughout the process of laying
and check to see if she has understood. If a family member
the charge, including accompanying her to the health facility
or friend accompanies the survivor, explain to him/her how
if necessary, rather than making her talk to a lot of different
the course of treatment must be taken.
Norute Nobola, TAC community mobiliser and
volunteer, works door to door in her community
to raise awareness about rape and to reduce
rape through education.
Part 6: Community action against
gender-based violence
Community action against gender-based violence
Attitudes and mobilisation
norms (values) around gender roles and power relations
There is a big need for community activism around GBV
form part of a culture where we do not challenge GBV in the
to make our health, police and court systems work for
survivors. It is time for us to stand up and say, ‘No’ to
between men and women. These norms drive GBV, and also
way we should.
violence against women and children, and to challenge
If you are faced with difficult attitudes in your community,
the attitudes that make this violence acceptable in our
you may need to start with a sensitive approach, by asking
questions about GBV and rape and how it is happening in
This part of the guide is broken into two sections. In the
first section, we explore how to change attitudes towards
GBV, through community education campaigns. We identify
the attitudes and values that drive GBV and mean that
your community.
You must:
a. draw out how people understand the issue
people continue to tolerate it in our communities. Our aim
b. generate debate and critical dialogue
is to create a culture where violence against women is
c. provide information about what GBV is
d. think collectively about how we as a community can
In the second section, we talk about community
mobilisation around GBV, which includes advocating for
better services in response to GBV at district, provincial
and national level. We look at how you can educate and
mobilise your community about their rights, and then start
to organise public forms of advocacy such as campaign
marches. Remember, we are challenging attitudes that
allow violence against women to be tolerated. These exist
in our communities, but also in our local service provision
prevent it.
As much as possible, you should draw on existing resources
and networks in your community to support your education
programme, just as you would for your advocacy campaigns.
In this way, you will target the attitudes that drive GBV from
the inside-out, and make sure the education programme
is effective and sustainable by identifying and utilising
community champions.
Social beliefs and attitudes that can drive GBV
Change attitudes towards GBV
There are certain attitudes and beliefs that drive GBV, and
Ultimately, we want to end violence against women and
mean that we continue to tolerate it in our communities:
children, and to do this we must begin to change our own
community’s attitudes that encourage, allow or turn a blind
than girls and women.
eye on GBV.
You may live in a community where violence against women
and children is not something that is talked about openly or
acknowledged to be a problem. For example, there might
be a taboo around talking about sexual abuse of children,
especially when this happens within the family.
Boys and men are seen to have more value and worth
This leads to an imbalance of power between women
and men.
Communities accept men’s use of power over women. It
is seen as normal.
Many of us still tolerate violence against women and remain
silent about its negative consequences, including the
Some social practices are abusive towards girls and women,
transmission of HIV. Too many people still say that domestic
such as forced child marriage which involves the abduction
and sexual violence are ‘private matters’ and argue that, ‘It is
of underage girls; this is sometimes known as ‘ukuthwala’.
not my business to intervene’. Sexual and domestic violence
In your community, there may also be the belief that a
are, of course, everybody’s business, because violence
woman cannot be raped by her husband or her boyfriend,
affects all of us and we each have a role to play in stopping
even if she does not give her consent to sex, because the
it. It is time to break the silence and create change. There
man has a ‘right’ to demand sex with his wife/girlfriend.
are many opportunities in our daily lives to take action
Underlying many of these attitudes and practices are social
when we witness someone being mistreated, disrespected
or abused. We have to find the courage to act on our
campaign or support group in your community, which
convictions that violence is wrong.
we will talk about later in the guide.
These are some of things we can tell ourselves as we
Organise a public meeting or workshop
address GBV:
an agenda for the event.
Violence against women is not acceptable or normal.
Violence against women is unjust.
This injustice thrives on our silence.
Our silence perpetuates violence against women.
Our silence is responsible for women’s increased risk for
such as service providers (health workers at clinics
HIV infection.
and hospital, police officers, social workers and any
Engage people in your community
Awareness is a critical step in creating change. It is the time
to inform, agitate and create a stir about these issues, a time
for people to stop and listen, to take notice and engage. If
we only talk about issues that people have heard before and
in ways that they are used to, not many people will listen.
You will need to be willing to take some risks and to say
things in a new way.
Identify speakers to present or facilitate workshops, as
well as a chairperson for the event.
Identify important participants - invite the people who
you are trying to influence, including stakeholders
organisations working in the field of GBV).
Violence against women is both cause and
consequence of HIV/AIDS.
If you are opening the meeting to the public, then
advertise it widely.
Take care of logistics, such as organising a venue,
transport, food, security and first aid supplies, if
Use participatory learning and action
Participatory learning and action methods (PLA)
are interactive tools which enable communities and
To raise awareness and get people’s attention, you need to
organisations to learn together about an issue in their
start talking about GBV. There are many ways you can start
community, develop a plan, act on it and evaluate and
conversations about GBV:
reflect on how it went. You can organise your own PLA
Start conversations in places where people gather
to socialise, such as taxis, schoolyards, shops and
Attend public and formal meetings, like community
meetings or ‘imbizos’, and use this space to raise GBV
as an issue. Make contact with active community
organisations and dedicated community leaders, and
start a discussion on the issue of violence against
workshop, which can take place over one or several days –
depending on what time people have available.
Participatory research methods involve the people directly
affected by the issue of GBV. This can be especially useful
for collecting data to inform advocacy on women’s rights.
This kind of research will help you to make sure that your
campaign reflects the reality of people most affected by the
problem of GBV.
women and children.
Importantly, this kind of research can also help to build the
Talk to women in your community about what their
capacity of the people most affected that you are working
concerns are around GBV. Remember that people may
with to analyse and understand the challenges they are
well be survivors of GBV themselves, and you will need
facing and empower themselves to drive forward change.
to be sensitive and respectful of people’s silence.
Identify the topics that you want to address and develop
A participatory approach is also useful when targeting social
If you know of people who are interested in working on
attitudes and value systems surrounding GBV, and when
the issue, you might want to organise a public meeting
thinking of how to improve community and service response
or workshop. This will also be a good point to start a
to help survivors and to deal with perpetrators.
Community action against gender-based violence
Activities described below, such as story-telling and
Story-telling is a technique for opening up the issue of
problem trees, encourage people to think about the
GBV and understanding the things that drive GBV and its
underlying causes and consequences of domestic violence
consequences for individuals, families and communities.
and sexual assault. Other activities, like drawing a
Once you have organised your meeting, ask people to divide
matrix of who is doing what, community mapping, and
into groups and to think of a story about GBV – if it is a true
collectively brainstorming one-year goals, help you to map
story, ask them not to reveal anyone’s name or identity. On
out the resources and networks in your community and to
flipchart paper, ask them to illustrate the story, and then to
encourage ownership and develop an action plan about
present to the large group. Discuss the main themes and
issues that come out of the stories, asking, ‘What does this
say about GBV in our communities?’
Drawing 1 -Story Telling
Fear and
Sexually transmitted diseases +
teenage pregnancy
lack of supervision
Drawing problem trees is a way of identifying the main
well. Ask participants to form groups according to what
causes and effects of GBV. After a story-telling activity, ask
organisation, government department, or community they
people to draw trees showing the roots – the causes of GBV,
come from and ask them to draw up a chart marking out
and the branches – its effects. In the middle, on the trunk, is
who is doing what to address GBV, how well they are doing
the problem – GBV. Afterwards, you can discuss the causes
it (a mark out of 10) and an explanation as to why that
and consequences in the large group.
score was given.
Once you have a list of the causes of GBV, you can rank
Now you have established who is doing what to address
them in order of priority and write them on flipchart paper so
GBV in your community, you can start brainstorming actions
everyone can see. To do this you can give people three votes
for addressing the causes of GBV. Go back to the main
and ask them to choose what they consider to be the three
issues that you voted as most important in your ranking
most important causes. (Note: you can use stickers and ask
activity. Ask people to stay in their organisational groups and
participants to stick them next to the causes that they want
to think about what needs to happen now to address GBV
to vote for). Count up the votes and list them in order of
and to write each thing down on different pieces of coloured
priority. Identify the first three causes, which might include,
card. After they have brainstormed action points, ask them
for example, perpetrators are rarely convicted, or people do
to divide the cards into three piles: 1) actions we can do on
not speak out about GBV. You will talk about these prioritised
our own; 2) actions we need help with; 3) actions we need
issues later in the workshop.
someone else to do.
Another useful activity is to draw up a matrix chart of who
A good concluding activity is to draw up one-year goals for
is doing what to address GBV in your community, and how
addressing GBV in your community. Ask the large group to
Community action against gender-based violence
Who is responsible for
providing a service?
Or who is working in
GBV and what are they
aiming to achieve?
What services are they
responsible for providing? Or
what are they responsible for
How well are they
doing in providing this
service or fulfilling their
mandate? (Mark out
of 10)
If you have given them a high score, what
are they doing well? If you have given them a
low score, what could be improved?
South African Police
Services (SAPS)
1. Visible policing
2. Quick response
1. Poor policing – not visible in our
3. Trauma centres
2. Delayed response
4. Stock rape kits for medical
examinations to be done at
health facilities
3. No private rooms in police station, GBV
survivors unable to be seen by a woman,
officers inconsiderate/insensitive
4. No rape kits in stock
1. Provide counselling to
GBV survivors
1. Counsellors not trained to provide
counselling to children
2. Long waiting list – too few counsellors due
to lack of funding
Mercy Clinic
Fill in examples from
your community
1. Sensitive staff who
assume all cases are true
and provide care
1. Nurses incorrectly believe a person must
have laid a rape case with the SAPS to
receive care
2. Medical care for GBV
2. All medication available and proper care
provided in line with guidelines
3. Carry out medical exam to
collect legal evidence for case
3. Medical examination carried out by
woman or with a woman present
4. Provide proper counselling
and ask for consent at each
stage of care
4. Problems with counselling and consent –
patient did not fully understand the purpose
of the medical examination
brainstorm these goals altogether, and to agree on them.
collective action and community organising as a way of
After this, you can try and think collectively of a vision
collaborating to advocate for rights and improved services
and mission for the way forwards. Ask people to volunteer
around GBV.
to take action to take this process forwards, for example
organising an awareness campaign or public protest march
Create and develop support groups
against GBV.
Creating support networks is crucial to addressing GBV in
Participatory learning and action workshops are useful
ways of raising consciousness and awareness of rights, so
that women and men are able to critically question norms
and practices, recognise their own self-worth and their
power and envisage alternatives. They are also a way of
strengthening the power of excluded groups, by promoting
our communities. Support groups are an essential tool to
help survivors of GBV to heal, to get information and to live
lives free of abuse. Support groups encourage people to
share their problems and to help one another, as well as to
gain and exchange information about how to access services
and about the healing process.
Support groups should:
of GBV. Give them your contact details to pass on to
people you think could benefit from the group.
provide information for members on GBV and how
to access medical, psychological and criminal justice
Distribute these wherever you think is appropriate.
build a social network of people facing similar
help survivors work through trauma and support one
another within a group setting.
Finding group members
Setting up support groups around GBV is very important,
but is not yet common, as compared with support groups
around HIV/AIDS, for example. You might find that there are
existing support groups in your community or a Thuthuzela
care centre or NGO that provides GBV services. Here are
some guidelines to consider when finding members:
Talk to health workers, local police, social workers and
anyone involved in the provision of services to survivors
Contact any GBV service organisations or NGOs in the
help survivors to feel empowered to take action and live
lives free of abuse
school teachers and community caregivers.
reduce isolation of and discrimination against people
who have been victimised
Speak to people in the community whom you think
will be concerned about people who face GBV, such as
challenges who can support one another
Prepare pamphlets or posters advertising the group.
Speak to potential members on a one-to-one basis. If
appropriate, visit them in their homes.
Allow support group members to decide on the agenda for
the support group, and for each meeting. Arrange the venue
so everyone feels an equal part of the group, can see each
other and be easily heard. Sitting in a circle usually works
well. Decide how big the group should be. Smaller groups of
about six to eight are best to start with, as they are easier to
Support group participants should be able to confidentially
disclose their own GBV survivor story or discuss challenges
of working through the trauma and/or accessing care and
services in a supportive environment.
Community action against gender-based violence
When organising any workshop or group on
GBV, remember...
In almost any group there will be people whose lives have
been affected by dating, sexual or domestic violence. It is,
therefore, likely that you will be working with people who
have witnessed or experienced violence at home or in a
dating relationship. Be aware that you are opening up what
may be a traumatic experience for some, and to be sensitive
the right to information on matters that concern us
the right to be treated with dignity.
The South African Constitution makes it clear that the South
African government has a responsibility to protect all South
Africans from domestic and sexual violence. Section 12,
subsection 2 of the Bill of Rights states that everyone has
the right to bodily and psychological integrity, which includes
to the fact that that these members may feel self-conscious,
the right (a) to make decisions concerning reproduction; and
ashamed, or worried that they will be singled out in the
(b) to security in and control over their body.
group. Allow members to share as much or as little as they
wish about their experiences. You can encourage members
to speak with you privately after group sessions if they
choose, rather than talking about their experience publicly.
Remind all members of their group agreements, including
Advocate for better services for GBV
Survivors of GBV may seek help from the police, health and
counselling services and the courts. Ensuring that survivors
receive good quality services from these institutions is
important, because they help remedy the injustice of the
offence, as well as support survivors to carry on with their
The Bill of Rights in the South African Constitution says that
everybody has the right to be free from violence, as well
as the right to have their dignity respected and protected.
These rights are obviously important to survivors. Remember
that the Bill of Rights also makes provision for the rights of
people accused of crimes, to make sure that innocent people
do not get punished for crimes they have not committed.
Two pieces of legislation key to combating violence against
women – the Domestic Violence Act 116 of 1998 (DVA)
and the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters)
Amendment Act 32 of 2007 (SOA) – can be the basis of
your campaign for better access to services around GBV.
lives, without being overwhelmed or permanently damaged
When campaigning for improvements within the criminal
by what has been done to them.
justice system, there are key legal and human rights that you
Unfortunately, many of these services leave much to be
desired. To date, the police and the criminal justice system
repeatedly fail victims of violence. There are also gaps in the
health service provision to survivors, whereby survivors may
encounter a lack of privacy, feel unsafe and re-traumatised in
a health facility. As a community activist, you can advocate
can fight for in relation to GBV. The same is applicable to
accessing health care after surviving rape or sexual violence.
According to the Service Charter for Victims of Crime, the
survivor – like all victims of crime – has the following rights
when in contact with the Criminal Justice System:
for improving access to services for survivors of GBV. Here
The right to be treated with fairness and with respect for
we will re-visit legal and human rights around GBV, and
your dignity and privacy. This includes being attended to
consider different forms of advocacy you can use to access
promptly and kindly, and applies to the police, prosecutors
these rights.
and court officials.
Know your rights
The right to offer information during the criminal
Four important rights, outlined in the South African
investigation and trial This means that the survivor has
Constitution are:
the right to be heard in connection with the investigation,
the right to fair treatment by government
the right not to be unfairly discriminated against
prosecution and parole hearing. The survivor may also add
to her statement and, where appropriate, may give evidence
during the sentencing of the impact the crime had on her.
The right to receive information
campaigns in your own communities against the high rates
This includes information on the survivor’s rights, relevant
of GBV or the inadequacies of the health and criminal justice
services, the survivor’s role in the case, the status of the
systems in responding to GBV.
case and the reasons why a case may not be prosecuted.
The survivor has the right to receive explanations in her
mother tongue. The survivor may also request documents
that she is entitled to, ask to be notified of proceedings that
she may attend, and request that the prosecutor notify the
If you are a community activist thinking of building a
campaign in your community, there a few key issues you
should consider before you get started.
survivor’s employer if she has to be absent from work to
What is the problem?
attend proceedings.
Successful campaigns are informed by evidence, and based
The right to protection
The survivor has the right to be free from intimidation,
bribery, abuse, corruption, harassment and fear. Any such
threats should be reported to the prosecutor and police. If
on compassionate understanding of community issues.
Critical questions community activists should ask in research
are: ‘Who are most affected?’ and, ‘How are they affected
the survivor complies with certain requirements, the police
In the previous section on changing attitudes towards GBV,
will apply for her to be put in witness protection.
we described the use of participatory learning and action
The right to assistance
The survivor has the right, where relevant, to have access
to social, health, counselling and legal services. The police
must help the survivor with these procedures.
methods for engaging people on the issue of GBV. Through
such sessions, you can identify the key issues that need to
be addressed as well as an action plan for the way forwards.
What do we want?
The right to compensation
The long-term and short-term demands of the campaign
The survivor has the right to monetary compensation for
must be clearly understood and easy to explain. For
loss of or damage to property suffered as a result of a crime.
example, some long-term demands might be:
The survivor can ask to be present at court on the date of
sentencing of the accused and ask the prosecutor to apply to
the court for a compensation order.
The right to complaint
The survivor has the right to complain if the services offered
were not adequate. When complaining, she should contact
the particular service provider or government department
that failed to provide adequate services. If she is not satisfied
with the way that her complaint has been handled, there
are other organisations she can contact. These include the
2. We want perpetrators to be arrested and to be
successfully prosecuted.
3. We want to reduce the rates of GBV in our
In relation to these, short-term demands could be:
1. We want there to be safe spaces for survivors of GBV
Office of the Public Protector, the South African Human
and receptive, respectful, well-trained service providers
Rights Commission, the Commission on Gender Equality,
at health facilities and police stations.
the Independent Complaints Directorate, Metropolitan
Police Offices, the Health Professionals Council, the Nursing
Council, or a lawyer of her choice.
Build a campaign
A campaign is an effort, usually by a group of individuals
joined by a common purpose, to bring about a desired
1. We want to prevent secondary trauma to survivors of
change. Here, we consider practical steps for building
2. We want police officers to be vigilant in responding to
GBV, to make an effort to find and arrest perpetrators
and to help the survivor through the process of laying a
3. We want more lights in our community, to make it safer
to use public areas at night.
Community action against gender-based violence
Who can give it to us?
adapted for different audiences – that is, government or
Who are the people and institutions that have the formal
communities. A campaign message should appeal to the
capacity and authority to delivery what we want? Who must
hear our message?
interests of those hearing the message. It should also appeal
to a sense of what is moral and right. This way, campaign
demands become relevant to those who hear them.
For instance, the South African Police Services, the National
Prosecution Authority and the Department of Health are
A campaign message could be ‘Maximum sentence for
responsible for providing services and care to survivors of
sex offenders’, ‘A strong man never abuses a woman’ or
GBV. At a national level you can direct your message at the
‘Demand better services for survivors’ – these campaign
Minister of Health, the Minister of Police or the Minister of
slogans or messages should grow organically from your
Justice. At a provincial level you can direct your message
community meetings and workshops.
at your provincial MEC for Health and MEC for Community
Safety (sometimes called the MEC for Safety and Security).
Who do they need to hear the message from?
You can also direct your message at your local elected and
A message can have a very different impact depending on
traditional leaders, calling on them to join your campaign or
who communicates it. This is one reason why alliances with
take action to remedy the problems you have identified.
diverse individuals and organisations are important. Who
are the most credible and influential messengers for different
What do they need to hear?
You need to build structured, persuasive messages to meet
audiences? What must be done to prepare these messengers
to deliver the message?
your audiences. Campaign demands can remain the same
In the case of GBV, survivors are well-situated to
but the message and the way you communicate it can be
communicate powerful messages. Friends and families
Aim activities at decision-makers to
achieve policy change
Activities aimed at decision-makers can include anything,
from writing letters to government to mass demonstrations.
Lobbying government
Start by identifying your target or targets. Your target may
be the official that is overseeing a department or facility
that is failing to provide adequate care or services for GBV.
Alternatively, it may be someone who has the influence to
bring about the change that you are campaigning for.
Take the time to think about the best way to access these
individuals and demand the change that you are lobbying
for. Also think about what actions will be most powerful in
lobbying support or demanding action by your target.
Some ideas of ways to lobby your identified targets:
what you are lobbying for.
of survivors are also in a good position. Service delivery
providers can also campaign for changes, appealing to those
higher up in government. Think about your position in the
community or the service provision system, and how you
can use it for optimum effect.
Request a face-to-face meeting to explain the problem
and what you are campaigning for.
If you are running a project to combat GBV, then invite
your targets to visit the project. This will give them
the opportunity to see the problem firsthand, which
How can we get them to hear the message?
may give them a sense of ownership in responding
Organising people to create public pressure is an important
to the issue. Invite them to work together with you in
part of the democratic process. To assert political and
responding to the issue.
practical change, TAC uses the weight of numbers, a public
sense of moral justice and the law. When planning your
people to sit outside his/her office until she/he agrees to
message and put pressure on government for change. Some
meet with you.
successful strategies used by TAC have included education,
pickets, demonstrations, lobbying, petitions and legal action.
Remember, for a successful campaign, you must:
develop a plan of action for proposed activities and
clearly define roles and responsibilities for carrying out
If your attempts to communicate with the target are all
ignored, then carry out a sit-in by organising a group of
campaign, think about the best ways to communicate your
Send them letters explaining what the problem is and
Participate in public imbizos and consultations
organised by government and community groups and
use this space to discuss issues of GBV.
Keep a record of all of your interactions with government,
and any commitments that are made. This will be useful to
you later on in the campaign.
develop budgets and time frames for campaign
Pickets and marches
carry out ongoing monitoring and evaluation to assess
A picket is a non-violent, public gathering at a set
the impact of your campaign, whether you are meeting
designation and a march is a non-violent, public gathering
targets and how your campaign can be strengthened.
along a planned route. When organising a picket or a march,
Community action against gender-based violence
remember to inform and prepare communities. You will need
Lastly, do not forget to prepare material for participants,
to obtain police permission and a permit to carry out the
passers-by and media. Additionally ensure that you prepare
picket or march (S38 Gatherings Act).
for the sound needs, such as organising loudspeakers to
A picket or march often concludes with handing over a
memorandum that lays out your campaign demands to
a targeted recipient (often a public official). Prior to the
ensure that your messages and speeches can be heard.
Campaign messaging
demonstration you will need to inform the party that you are
You will need to develop messaging for your campaign to
protesting against that a memorandum will be delivered. You
explain what the issue is, and your campaign demands.
must retain proof that you have informed them. Additionally,
Messaging can be conveyed through written material, such
you must ask the recipient of the memorandum to sign
as flyers, pamphlets, statements and editorials. Messaging
the document and you must retain a copy of the signed
can also be conveyed graphically, using posters, street art
memorandum as proof that it has been handed over.
and other methods. Additionally, messages can be conveyed
through story telling or performing arts.
You will need to assign marshals for the event to ensure that
protesters remain non-violent and in the designated area.
In developing your messaging and materials, think about
You may need to assist in organising transport and food, and
what type of messaging is most appropriate for the audience
should always have a first aid kit available. Additionally, you
you want to reach and how you will reach them.
may need to organise toilets for protesters.
These posters are examples of visual messaging used by TAC in campaigns against GBV
Using the media
stories; link your story to important dates, such as National
Utilise the media to spread information about your campaign
Women’s Day; provide details of members of government
as widely as possible. Develop and maintain a list of media
that you are targeting and how they failing to uphold the
in the area that would be able to cover your campaign.
rights of GBV survivors; or, link your press conferences and
Be sure to inform the media of all the actions that you are
statements to a public event, such as a picket.
planning. You can pitch stories to the media by calling them
directly or sending them press statements. Another option to
Door-to-door campaigns
get media coverage of your campaign is to organise a press
A door-to-door campaign is when activists take their
conference and invite all of the relevant news outlets and
members of the media to attend. Also, try contacting local
radio stations to see whether you can get a spot speaking
about your campaign.
campaign gives activists the chance to explain the issues
behind the campaign in person to community members.
Remember that you will have also have identified and
Remember that when you are pitching your story to the
developed your campaign aims and objectives through your
media, you are competing with other stories and groups
community forums and through participatory ways of
pitching their events, so think of ways to raise the media’s
identifying challenges and ways to address these.
interest in your campaign.
message from home to home in a community. This kind of
Before setting out on a door-to-door campaign, you should
Some ideas to raise the media’s interests in your story are
be familiar with the area activists are working in and a route
to: ask people directly affected by GBV to tell their personal
should be planned in advance. Additionally, for safety, door-
Community action against gender-based violence
to-door campaigns should always be carried out by at least
If the law is failing to protect us, then we can put pressure
two people.
on government to change the law. If the laws are good, but
Before you set out, know the facts about the campaign
issues and prepare information packages for the community,
they are not being upheld, then we can put pressure on
government to ensure that the laws are met.
explaining what the campaign is about. Listen attentively to
As communities, we can also seek legal assistance to
community members and write down feedback, stories and
take legal action in our own campaigns – for instance, if
other information.
government is not meeting the requirements of the law.
During the door-to-door campaign you can recruit others
to join your campaign and inform them of how they can
become involved. Additionally, you should follow up on
any serious situations discovered during the door-to-door
campaign with additional visits and support, or by referral to
relevant available resources.
Legal action is usually viewed as a last resort in a campaign,
after other forms of advocacy have been attempted and
Be creative in your campaigns
In this guide, we have discussed how to take action against
GBV as a community and as individual. We have suggested
ways to change social attitudes that fail to challenge violence
against women by generating debate and critical dialogue
An important aspect of working to achieve change is being
in your community, providing information about GBV and
able to show that a lot of people agree with you. Gathering
rights, and encouraging people to break the silence, speak
signatures on a petition about your issue is a great way
out and take action. Using participatory learning and action
to educate and activate people. Petitions help to build a
methods as interactive tools, you can create processes where
movement and provide an easy way for people to participate
communities and organisations learn together about GBV,
in your campaign.
develop a plan, act on it and evaluate and reflect on how it
A petition can be designed to build an activist movement
for an issue, such as victim-friendly services at police
Once you have a group of people with a common purpose,
stations and health facilities, or increased convictions of
you can build a campaign advocating for access to rights
perpetrators of GBV. A petition usually includes a position
and services around GBV. This guide has provided some
statement on the issue, followed by space for signatures and
key steps that you can follow to build your own campaign,
contact information. When people sign the petition, they are
including public marches, door-to-door campaigns, writing
agreeing to the positions spelled out in the petition.
petitions and lobbying government. The activities outlined
here are by no means exhaustive, and we encourage you to
Legal action
be creative in your campaigns to bring about change.
Activism takes place within the framework of the law and the
Advocacy can grow from small beginnings. As a member
Constitution of South Africa. It is important for all activists
of your community and an individual committed to taking
to have basic ‘legal literacy’. This understanding will help us
action against GBV, you have power to make an impact.
collect evidence for our own campaigns, for instance:
With determination, planning, creativity and the ability to
to demonstrate how a law is failing communities; or,
to demonstrate how government or other institutions,
build strong networks you can achieve your goals and bring
about change.
companies or individuals are failing to uphold the
requirements of the law.
Nomathamsanqa Radebe, Sangoma
and TAC volunteer
‘Since 1980 I am a survivor of rape and
abuse. This has been a vicious cycle
within my family as my mother was also a
victim of abuse. I have carried this burden
for too long. My healing has begun, I am
recovering emotionally and I know it is
going to take time but I will be patient
with myself.’
Part 7: Case studies of
gender-based violence
Case studies of gender-based violence
Stories to learn from
Here are six stories that describe the trauma experienced by survivors of GBV. The stories provide lessons we can learn
and share. To prompt ideas and discussion, here are some questions to lead discussion:
What did you learn from this story?
How do you feel about what happened?
Have you heard similar stories in your community?
What levels of trauma did the victim experience?
What legal and human rights were abused?
What does the story teach about community activism and what it can achieve?
What can you do in your community to fight GBV?
Story 1: Gert Sibande district, Mpumalanga
This story is about a young lesbian
Us: We’ve come to make a case. We
Closet lesbians told their stories and
woman who was ‘correctively’ raped,
want to speak to a policewoman in
some joined us. One gogo called
and how she and TAC community
her granddaughter: ‘Get out of this
activists campaigned to bring the
perpetrator to justice. At the same
time they fought for the rights of
Police officer: Why?
Shirley: I’ve been raped by two men.
lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender
and intersex (LGBTI) people.
Police officer: You look like a boy – why
would they want to rape you?
Thandi Maluka, co-ordinator of Gert
pretending – here are friends for you.”
“We marched to the police station
with our memo demanding access to
justice for lesbians and better treatment
for rape survivors. The young men
were arrested and appeared in court
Sibande district in Mpumalanga,
Me: She’s a woman and rape is a
three times. TAC members were there
recalled how this heroic story about
serious crime – do your job.
to support Shirley. The case was
the experiences of Shirley Phangisa
signalled the start of TAC’s first
LGBTI sector:
“Human rights are for all people, no
matter what their sexual orientation.
Officer: Just sign this statement, boy.
dismissed because of ‘lack of evidence’
but we campaigned until the DNA
Me: This is not what she told
evidence was ‘found’ and the case was
you. I demand to see your station
reopened in 2010.”
Thandi spoke about how community
But gay men are often targeted as ‘un-
Thandi went on to explain the chain
activists continue to fight against GBV,
African’ and many lesbian women have
of events that started the road to
and for the rights of lesbian and gay
been victims of so-called ‘corrective’
justice, and the start of the TAC LGBTI
or ‘educational’ rape, or murder. In
2007, TAC member Shirley Phangisa,
“TAC is a home for all! Suspicion,
“That day I became a feminist! I
fear and stigma are still there but
phoned Nono Eland, head of TAC’s
many lesbians are out of the closet
women’s sector to strategise. I called
and there are brave role models. We
Cutting Edge, a local television
work closely with People Opposed to
programme, who did an exposé of the
Women Abuse (POWA), Forum for the
police station. TAC went door to door
Empowerment of Women and OUT to
for three days visiting huts, shacks,
end discrimination and hate crimes.
Thandi described how the police
houses, to raise awareness about
We need to fight until we get the
responded to the two women when
rape and human rights. People were
Constitution for everyone!”
they went to the station to file the case:
open-minded, wanting information.
a young lesbian woman, was raped
by two young men who broke into her
house at midnight to ‘change’ her. Later
Shirley told me ‘It’s no use going to the
police – they don’t take lesbian cases
seriously,’ but we went together.”
Story 2: Khayelitsha, Western Cape
This story is about a rape and murder
Triangle Project – calling for justice for
Additionally, in November 2010,
that took place in Khayelitsha, in the
Khayelitsha community organisations
Western Cape, and the inadequate
response of the justice system. The
story also shows what dedicated and
persistent community activism can
very bad. Nine men were originally
arrested, but early investigations were
carried out poorly and five of these
men were acquitted due to lack of
marched to Parliament to deliver
a memorandum to the MEC for
Community Safety and the Minster of
the Department of Justice, demanding
that government address the failure
of the police and courts to provide
GBV cases in Khayelitsha and many
evidence. The trial of the remaining
other South African communities
men then dragged on for six years. The
often drag on for years – mainly due
trial was postponed approximately 50
mobilisation of these committed
to negligence of the police and courts.
times with defence attorneys routinely
activists drew attention from national
The Zoliswa Nkonyana case highlights
missing court dates. Additionally, the
and international media and, in
many of the incompetencies within
state failed to provide adequate security
January 2012, the four men were
South Africa’s criminal justice system.
to the main state witness, who fled
convicted of murder, receiving 18 year
the province after she received death
sentences each.
Zoliswa Nkonyana was brutally
murdered in Khayelitsha on 4 February
2006 at the age of 19. Zoliswa was
openly living as a lesbian and after
refusing to use the men’s toilet in a
shebeen she was pursued, stabbed,
clubbed, kicked and beaten to death by
The initial response to the case was
threats. And, in 2010, the remaining
four men facing trial escaped from
their holding cells. The men were
later recaptured but it was revealed
that their escape had been aided by a
police sergeant.
safety, security and access to justice
in Khayelitsha. The persistent
On the day of the sentencing, Zoliswa’s
mother expressed her gratitude to
community activists for not giving
up on the case, saying ‘I will sleep
peacefully now, and finally we can
now all carry on with our lives’. TAC
a group of young men. In response to
Throughout these delays, dedicated
community activist, Mary-Jane Matsolo
the murder of Zoliswa, TAC mobilised
community activists gathered outside
went on to say, ‘This case has sent
with Khayelitsha partner organisations
the court during each court hearing
a very strong message throughout
– Social Justice Coalition, Sonke
calling for justice for the family of
Khayelitsha that homophobia will not
Gender Justice, Free Gender and the
Zoliswa and all survivors of GBV.
be tolerated in our community’.
Case studies of gender-based violence
Story 3: Thoyohandou, Limpopo
This disturbing story tells how a
and taken into police custody. Her
containing the video were confiscated.
15-year-old girl was violently raped
mother – as well as a social worker
Since then, the case has been
and filmed, with video being made
– were only informed of the incident
proceeding in court.
public in her community. There was a
later. The victim was taken to the
poor follow-up by SAPS, who arrested
hospital the following day, and later to
the perpetrators under the charge of
a correctional facility for minors, under
common assault. The Thoyohandou
the charge that she had been stealing.
Victim Empowerment Programme
(TVEP) intervened to ensure
appropriate follow-up from criminal
justice and trauma services.
TVEP also provided assistance to the
victim to enable her to access medical
services. She was taken to the hospital
for a thorough medical examination,
After her release, the victim and her
and has had her teeth replaced with
mother opened a case of assault
dentures by a dentist in Louis Trichardt.
against both the father and the son.
She has been to the Trauma Centre for
Both accused persons were arrested
counselling and has also seen the State
The events that occurred in a remote
days later, and charged with common
Forensic Psychologist at Tshilidzini
village in the Thulamela Municipality,
The video recording went viral, and
The entire system – from SAPS,
became well known by community
Department of Health, Department of
members both within and beyond
Social Development, to the community
Thulamela. It was brought to the
where the incident occurred - failed
attention of TVEP. After looking at it,
the victim completely. To have the
TVEP conducted some inquiries, and
perpetrators arrested and charged
the village where the incident occurred
for common assault amounts to the
was identified. TVEP staff went to
trivialisation of an attack that qualifies
the village and spoke to the victim.
as attempted murder (or assault
TVEP then notified Family Violence,
occasioning grievous bodily harm).
Child Protection and Sexual Offences
This is in addition to the appalling fact
Unit (FCS Unit) in Thohoyandou, the
that the victim was initially arrested
Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP),
as a perpetrator of crime. TVEP’s
and other law enforcement authorities.
intervention has been both legal and
Bringing attention to the case in this
medical, and the outcome has been
way meant that the charges against
to make the situation a little better for
Limpopo, are chilling and vexing
given their gravity, duration and the
age of the victim. A 15-year-old
girl was caught stealing from the
perpetrator’s home in the early hours
of the afternoon. She was detained
by a 17-year-old boy, who called his
father and was given instructions to
hold the suspect until he arrived. When
he arrived home, the father violently
raped the girl for a period of about
six hours. The 17-year-old son used
a video phone to record the assault
perpetrated by his father, and this was
spread throughout the community, who
thus participated as spectators of this
horrific crime.
the accused persons were altered: from
the victim and increase the chances of
SAPS responded after receiving a call
common assault to attempted murder.
bringing the perpetrators to justice.
from one of the community members.
Bail was opposed. The number of
The victim of the assault was arrested
suspects was increased. Cellphones
Story 5: Port St Johns, Eastern Cape
This is a story of how a survivor
communities in the rural Eastern Cape.
out-patient department in the hospital
of sexual assault and attempted
Knowing that there was a Thuthuzela
was full, and the one doctor on call
rape tried to file a case against her
Care Centre at the main hospital in the
was in surgery. Julia had to sit in her
perpetrator and access medical help,
area, Julia phoned the co-ordinator
wet clothes in the public waiting area.
but she encountered a dysfunctional
of the centre. The co-ordinator sent
Eventually, a man who works for the
system that led to her experiencing
police officers to fetch her from the
National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) at
secondary trauma. This story
backpackers’ lodge where she was
the Thuthuzela arrived, and found out
highlights the factors in the existing
staying, and they transported her to
when the doctor would be available.
system that lead to secondary
the police station. A female police
He took Julia and the police officers
trauma, including insensitive police
officer started to take her statement
into a room with a heater whilst they
who have no interest or inclination
at the front desk in full public view.
waited for the doctor.
to find the perpetrator and bring
Julia, who knew her rights, asked to
him to justice, and Thuthuzela Care
be taken to the victim empowerment
Centres that are not fully operational
room. The officer told her the victim
and are closed during the weekends.
empowerment room was locked (it
In this situation, the survivor had
was a Sunday) and she did not know
knowledge and access to resources
where the key was. She left Julia
to fight for her rights to health and
sitting in the public waiting area whilst
justice services. She is still pursuing
she ate her lunch. During this time,
advocacy work in this area, using
an officer in plain clothes addressed
her story to appeal to local service
Julia, asking questions about why
providers to get them to improve
she was in the station. This was very
sexual assault service response in
discomforting for her. During the time
the area.
she was waiting, she was offered no
A 30-year-old woman, Julia, was
sexually assaulted whilst running on a
deserted public road in Port St Johns
in the Eastern Cape, on 27 November
2011. The assailant had a broken
bottle as a weapon, and tried to pull
from the police officers. She asked for
a blanket because she was in her wet
clothes, but there were none available.
Eventually, Julia’s statement was taken
in the public waiting area.
Julia into the bushes, but she wrestled
After over an hour Julia was
with him and tried to calm him down,
transported by the police to the
keeping him on the road. Eventually,
Thuthuzela Care Centre, 50 kilometres
the man pulled Julia onto the ground
away. This took over an hour. A police
and attempted to rape her but did not
officer started to ask her why she was
manage to penetrate. He ejaculated
angry, telling her she should be grateful
so there was semen on her thigh.
she was alive. This angered and upset
The perpetrator stabbed her hand,
Julia, as it diminished the serious
but otherwise there were no serious
trauma she had experienced.
counselling, or even any compassion
After one and a half hours the doctor
became available. He asked Julia
about the assault, and said that a
rape examination was necessary.
There was no informed consent – he
did not ask Julia if she wanted to
have a rape examination. Julia was
offered no counselling, and the rape
examination was conducted with very
little communication about what was
going on. The doctor was under a
great deal of stress and was sweating
and breathing heavily. Julia found
the rape examination invasive and
uncomfortable, including swabs that
were taken unnecessarily – even
though she told the doctor that the
perpetrator had not managed to
penetrate her.
Eventually the rape examinatin was
over, and the doctor stitched up Julia’s
hand. She was given medication,
including post-exposure prophylaxis
(PEP). Although there had been
no penetration, the perpetrator had
ejaculated and he was bleeding from
his chin. The packet containing the
PEP medication had the wrong dosage
At the hospital, there was no doctor
marked on it, and Julia had to double-
Julia is a researcher in the field of
available, as had been promised by
check this with a friend who was a
sexual violence, and has worked in
the Thuthuzela co-ordinator. The
doctor. If she had taken the incorrect
Case studies of gender-based violence
dose she might have been vulnerable
Cape Town, as counselling services
taken the law into their own hands and
to HIV infection. The prescribed
are difficult to access in the rural area
killed the perpetrator, although there is
antibiotic was also not available, and
where she was assaulted.
no evidence of this.
Subsequent to the case being opened,
Julia has written a letter to the manager
Julia was told she would have to return
to the hospital the following day.
there has been poor follow-up by the
of the Thuthuzela Care Centres in the
Luckily, Julia had resources and
police. There was no attempt during
Eastern Cape at the provincial NPA
contacts to be able to follow up about
the incident to return to the scene of
offices, alerting him to the case and to
the correct dosage of treatment,
the crime to find the perpetrator. The
the secondary trauma she experienced
which might not have been available
investigating officer has phoned Julia
due to the poor response from sexual
to someone living locally. She also
once to say there has been no progress
assault services in Port St Johns. She is
had access to on-going, professional
in finding the man. He stated that the
awaiting his response.
counselling when she returned to
police think the community may have
Story 5: Rural area, Eastern Cape
The following story illuminates
The leader of a community home-
had counselling. She was very upset
some of the underlying issues
based care organisation had also been
and found it difficult to talk to the
surrounding child sexual abuse in
told about the rape. They told other
police; however she tried her best to
rural communities. In this situation,
community members that Thembekazi
give her statement. Eventually, the
a 15-year-old was raped and the
must be referred to the hospital to
doctor arrived and did the medical
community tried to resolve the
receive treatment, and that the police
examination and gave Thembekazi
case without reporting it to service
should also be notified. There was
post-exposure prophylaxis and other
providers or taking the child to
a long debate, which went on for
treatment that she needed.
hospital for treatment. Eventually,
many hours. Meanwhile, Thembekazi
a community home-based care
continued to be kept in the stifling
organisation persuaded the child’s
roundavel, with other community
caretakers to take her to hospital, but
members. She was still traumatised
she has received limited counselling
and had not received any medical help
and the perpetrator was released the
or counselling. She started to have fits,
following day.
possibly from the shock of what had
A 15-year-old girl, Thembekazi was
counselling at the hospital, or followup counselling. The home-based
caregivers who had helped her realised
that this was important because
she had been through the traumatic
experience of being raped. The leader
of the organisation contacted a social
worker from the local town who
raped in her home by a next-door
Eventually, the home-based caregivers
neighbour, aged 17, who was meant
convinced the other community
to be looking after her and her siblings
members that Thembekazi should
whilst their mother was working in
be taken to the nearest hospital for
treatment. They also called the police.
overburdened with work, although she
Thembekazi told her grandmother
The caregivers escorted Thembekazi to
about the rape. Her grandmother then
not able to give Thembekazi many
the hospital, but once she arrived she
told the chief and other community
sessions of counselling.
was forced to sit in the public waiting
leaders. A meeting was held in the
child’s home, with many community
members joining in the discussion
about what was to be done about the
situation. Thembekazi was kept in
the same roundavel with the people
discussing what do to about her case.
Some of the older community women
suggested that they test Thembekazi,
happened to her.
Thembekazi did not receive any
area, because there was no Thuthuzela
Care Centre or private space available
where she could wait. The waiting
area of the hospital was crowded.
Thembekazi had to sit on a long bench
crowded with other people, but she
could not sit properly because of the
pain she experienced from the rape.
was good at counselling child rape
victims, and Thembekazi went to see
her three times. The social worker is
is very dedicated to her job, and was
Themebazi is now back living in
the community. Her perpetrator was
arrested and kept in prison for one
night, but released the following day.
The reason given was that, because
he was underage (17), the police
could not charge him with the rape.
According to community caregivers, the
family of the victim and the perpetrator
to make sure that she had really
Thembekazi was eventually taken to a
talked with each other and have
been raped. The headman and other
hospital bed, after one of the home-
resolved the case through payment /
community leaders wanted to have a
based caregivers asked the nurse
compensation to the victim and her
traditional ceremony, including killing
if she could take her to somewhere
family. Meanwhile the perpetrator
a cow to ‘clean the act’. People did not
where she could have some privacy
continues to live freely next door to
want to report the case to the police,
and could lie down. The police then
but rather resolve the case within the
arrived to take Thembekazi’s statement
before she had received treatment or
Case studies of gender-based violence
Story 6:
Violence against men, including
below, of a ‘corrective rape’ of a gay
victim?” Bongani was only taken to a
acts of sexual violence, is not
man, illustrates how police officers
private interview room after I insisted.
something that is often talked about
and other service providers can be
or acknowledged to be a problem.
dismissive of cases of male rape,
Indeed, rape of men and boys is a
which apart from failing to provide
taboo subject and males who are
an appropriate service, is deeply
sexually violated struggle to access
traumatising to the victim.
help and services as a consequence.
We had a similar experience at the
hospital. Apparently, female rape
victims are not required to wait for
hours in the general waiting area, and
are offered counselling. Bongani had
none of this.
Men may never talk about their
On 27 August 2010, Bongani, a then
experiences of sexual violence, and
19-year old student that I mentor for
therefore are likely to deal with the
an NGO was raped. Bongani is gay, not
trauma of being victimised for the
openly, but his rapist suspected he was
given all featured women as the
rest of their lives in silence. If they
gay, and told him that the rape was to
victims. He enjoyed the counselling
do report sexual abuse, they are
teach him not to be gay. So it was a
for a month, but then said that his
often faced with stigmatising and
‘corrective rape’.
counsellor had become impatient with
discriminatory attitudes by their
fellow community members or even
Bongani dealt with the police at first
by service providers, such as the
on his own, with the help of his sister.
police, who are meant to be assisting
I went with him to the police station
them. Whilst there is little statistical
three days later to follow up, and I
evidence or research done on male
saw how there was disbelief that he,
victims of rape, it is thought to be a
a male, had been raped. The police
particular problem in South Africa,
officer asked him loudly, in front of
especially in prisons.
everyone in the charge office, “Who
It is important that we acknowledge
is the victim?” Bongani replied that
and understand that men can be,
he was, and the police officer did not
and are, raped, so that we can help
seem to believe him or to understand
male survivors and prevent others
him. He asked again, and then
from being victimised. The story
repeated disbelievingly,“You’re the
Bongani went for counselling a few
weeks later. The pamphlets he was
him and told him that he should stop
feeling sorry for himself, that most other
people who were raped went through
much worse trauma.
Training for police, hospital staff and
even counsellors must also address
male rape. The response that Bongani
faced from these service providers
only increased his sense of shame,
reinforcing the idea that he ought to
have been able to protect himself, and
that rape does not really happen to
Pamela Ntshuntsha, TAC prevention
and treatment literacy trainer
accused: a suspect becomes the
are victimised because of their gender
postponed: when a case is postponed
accused when he is formally charged
characteristics (masculine or feminine
in court, the hearing is delayed to a
with committing the crime.
traits) or sexual orientation. Unequal
later date.
acquit: an alleged perpetrator is
acquitted when the court decides
women promote GBV.
presiding officer: the magistrate or
judge that will hear the case and make
that he is not guilty of committing
gender equality: a situation where
a decision on whether the alleged
the sexual offence, after the court
women and men are recognised as
perpetrator should be acquitted or
has considered all evidence that is
equal and are treated equally with
presented to it by the prosecutor
the same status, power, resources,
and the alleged perpetrator’s legal
responsibilities and opportunities for
fulfilling their potential
allege: to claim that someone has done
justice: behaviour that is fair, honest,
something wrong, before it has been
righteous, deserved
proven in court
legal obligations: what the law of
prosecute: to take a case to court
in order to try to obtain a conviction
against an alleged offender
rights: what you are entitled to or what
you can do about something
secondary victimisation: where the
bail: an alleged perpetrator awaiting
South Africa allows or permits or does
trial is released from police custody
not allow or permit or what the law
until the court makes a decision on his
says you and other individuals or the
guilt or until a specific date.
state must or must not do
complainant: the legal term referring to
medical examination: in this guide,
the person against whom a crime has
‘medical examination’ refers to the
been committed. Prosecutors often use
examination that is carried out to
the term ‘complainant’ when they are
collect evidence left by the rapist on the
sexually transmitted infections (STIs):
talking about the survivor/victim.
rape survivor’s body. It is also called
infections, which can cause illness or
a ‘medico-legal’ examination. This
disease, can be passed between people
evidence is often critical in a successful
from sexual contact. When this occurs,
prosecution of the rapist, as his DNA
it is called a sexually transmitted
(genetic ‘footprint’) can be found in
infection. As a rape survivor, you
body tissues such as saliva, semen
must be tested and given medicine to
or hair left on the survivor’s body,
prevent you from contracting STIs. If
proving that sexual contact occurred.
you contract an STI, then you must be
Evidence of violence and rape can also
treated for it.
cross-examination: the interrogation
(questioning) of a witness (a witness
is a person that has seen the crime
or can provide evidence to prove
that the crime occurred). During the
cross-examination, the witness will be
questioned on the evidence that he/she
docket: a police case file
gender: the roles prescribed to women
power relations between men and
survivor is re-victimised or subjected
to further trauma over and above
the trauma that she has already
experienced due to the sexual offence.
sex: the biological or physical
differences between women and men
sometimes be found.
perpetrator: someone who carries out
a harmful, illegal or immoral action.
and men by society and culture
While we realise that in our legal
gender-based violence (GBV): GBV
proven guilty, we also respect that a
is a term that covers all violence that
perpetrator of rape who is not found
is based on someone’s sex or gender.
guilty by a court of law will always be
This includes violence against women
the perpetrator from the survivor’s point
and children as well as people who
of view.
system a person is innocent until
survivor: a term often used by
organisations providing counselling
and other services to a victim of GBV.
This term recognises the individual’s
strength, acknowledges what the
individual did to survive the rape and
recognises that many rapes end in
death or involve the threat of death.
suspect: a person who has been
others who work closely with rape
violence: behaviour involving brutal
formally charged with a crime but who
survivors/victims may experience
physical force or cruelty and where the
is still only under suspicion and has
vicarious trauma. Feelings that can
aim is to hurt, damage or kill
not been convicted
occur as a result of vicarious trauma
testify: to orally give information during
the court proceedings on what was
seen or what is known about the sexual
undermine: to weaken, destabilise or
include helplessness, fear, rage, loss
of faith and guilt. People that are
consistently exposed to trauma in their
witness: a person who can give
relevant information in a court case.
Witnesses are called to court to testify.
work should have access to ongoing
women’s rights: basic rights and
counselling services to prevent or deal
freedoms that all women and girls
with vicarious trauma.
are entitled to as human beings. The
victim: the most commonly used
vicarious trauma: trauma that occurs
term in society for someone who has
as a result of ongoing exposure to
experienced GBV. The police and many
trauma experienced by others. Police,
other service providers usually refer to
health care workers, counsellors and
the rape ‘victim’.
concept builds on the notion of human
rights which are shared by all women,
men, girls and boys, and which are
enshrined in international agreements
and law.
Useful contact details
National Helplines:
Child Victims of Sexual, Emotional and
Physical Abuse
0800 035 553
0800 055 555
Lifeline Southern Africa
0861 322 322
People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA)
083 765 1235
South African Police Services
086 001 0111
South African Police Services Emergency
Number 10111
Thuthuzela Care Centre
Sinakekelwe Gauteng
(011) 389-0675
Rape Crisis, Athlone
Western Cape
(021) 684-1180
Thuthuzela Care Centre, Phoenix
(031) 502-2338
Rape Crisis, Khayelitsha
Western Cape
(021) 361 9228
Thuthuzela Care Centre, Umlazi
(031) 907-8496
Rape Crisis, Observatory
Western Cape
(021) 447-1467
Thuthuzela Care Centre, Mangkweng
(015) 286-1261
Rape Crisis, Somerset West
Western Cape (021) 850 4761
Thuthuzela Care Centre, Tshilidzini
(015) 964-3257
Rape Crisis, George
Western Cape
(044) 874 5122
Stop Gender Violence Helpline
0800 150 150
Thuthuzela Care Centre, Kanyemazane
(013) 796-9412
Suicide Helpline
0800 567 567
Trafficking Helpline
0800 555 999
Find your nearest Thutuzela Care Centre:
Thuthuzela Care Centre, Libode Eastern
(047) 568-6247
Thuthuzela Care Centre, Mdantsane
Eastern Cape (043) 761-2023
Thuthuzela Care Centre, Tshepong
Free State
(051) 403-9639
Thuthuzela Care Centre, Kopanong, Gauteng
(016) 428-5959
Thuthuzela Care Centre, Kakamas Northern
(054) 431-0057
Thuthuzela Care Centre, Mafikeng
North West
(018) 383-7000
Thuthuzela care centre, Bellville
Western Cape
(021) 918-1321
Thuthuzela Care Centre, Manenberg
Western Cape
(021) 691-6194
Legal AID Advice Line
0800 110 110
Call the head office to locate your nearest
legal aid office
(011) 877 2000
For legal assistance and advice from a
public interest group, contact:
Lawyers Against Abuse, Gauteng
(011) 717-8622
Legal Resources Centre, Gauteng
(011) 836-9831
SECTION27, Gauteng
(011) 356-4100
Thohoyando Victim Empowerment
Programme, Limpopo (015) 963-1222
Thuthuzela Care Centre, Mamelodi, Gauteng
(012) 801-4504
In Khayelitsha, contact the Simelela Care
Centre: (021) 361-0543
Thuthuzela Care Centre, Masakhane
(011) 923-2106
Contact Rape Crisis for counselling or
support with your court case at:
Women’s Legal Centre, Western Cape
(021) 424-5660
Rape Crisis, Motherwell, Eastern Cape
(041) 462 2371
For assistance and referrals to counselling
services from NGOs based in your area,
Thuthuzela Care Centre, Nthabiseng
(011) 933-1206
Thuthuzela Care Centre, Galeshewe
Northern Cape
(053) 830-8900
For legal assistance and advice, contact
your nearest Legal AID Board:
Rape Crisis, Pietermaritzburg,
(033) 394 444
Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre (011) 403-4267
The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC)
(021) 422-1700
(TAC offices are located in Ekurhuleni,
Lusikisiki, Pietermaritzburg, Khayelitsha,
Mopani and Ermelo)
Thohoyando Victim Empowerment
Programme, Limpopo (015) 963-1222
Catholic Justice & Peace Commission, North
073 508 5151
Triangle Project (combating violence within
the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender
(021) 712-9966
Free Gender, Khayelitsha
Western Cape
(021)362-9491 (representing black
lesbians living in South Africa)
Justice and Women, KwaZulu-Natal
(033) 394-9949
Masimanyane Women’s Support Centre
Eastern Cape
(043) 743-9169
Mosaic, Western Cape
(0)21 761-7585
Nicro Women’s Support Centre, Western
(021) 949-2110
People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA)
(011) 642-4345/6
(POWA offices are located in Tembisa,
Evaton, Soweto, Katlehong and Volsloorus)
Social Justice Coalition, Western Cape
(021) 361-8160
Sonke Gender Justice, Gauteng and Western
(021) 423-7088
SWEAT (representing sex workers who have
been sexually abused)
(021) 448-7875
Contact your provincial Independent
Complaints Directorate at:
Free State
(051) 507-6561
Gauteng (011) 274-7859
(031) 325-4825
Limpopo (015) 290-6227
Eastern Cape
(013) 762-4838
(043) 706-6500
Northern Cape Free State
(053) 839-2840
(051) 406-6800
Northwest Province
(018) 299-7001
(011) 220-1500
Western Cape
(012) 417-7100
(031) 310-1300
Contact the Health Professionals Council
at: (012) 338 9300
(015) 291-9800
Alternatively, you can download the
complaint form to lay a complaint against
Mpumalanga a doctor on the Health Professionals
(013) 754-1000
Council’s website at http://www.hpcsa.
Northern Cape
(053) 807-5100
complaint.pdf. This can be mailed to P O
Northwest Province
Box 205, Pretoria 0001, hand delivered to
(018) 397-2500
553 Vermeulen Street (Corner Hamilton and
Vermeulen Street), Arcadia, Pretoria or faxed
Western Cape
to 012 328 4895.
(021) 941-4800
Contact your provincial National
Prosecuting Authority at:
Contact the South African Nursing Council
at: (012) 420-1000
National (012) 293-1000
Eastern Cape (040) 608-8413
Abrahams N, Christofides N, Jewkes R,
Jina R, Kenyon B, Loots L, Mohamed
VB, Monyobo P. (2009) A guide
for survivors of rape sexual assault.
Developed by the Medical Research
Council (MRC) for the National
Department of Health. http://www.svri.
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Bhana K, Gerntholtz L, Hurt K, Meeson A,
Vetten L. (2004) Health and hope in our
hands: Addressing HIV and AIDS in the
aftermath of rape and woman abuse.
AIDS Law Project (ALP), Centre for
Applied Legal Studies, University of the
Witwatersrand & Centre for the Study of
Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR)
Centre for Applied Legal Studies (2009)
A summary of the Criminal Law
(Sexual Offences and Related Matters)
Amendment Act 32 of 2007
Christofides C, Webster N, Jewkes R, PennKekana L, Martin L, Abrahams N, Kim
J (2003) The state of sexual assault
services: Findings from a situation
analysis of services in South Africa. The
South African Gender-based Violence
and Health Initiative: Pretoria.
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Act 108 of 1996
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Matters) Amendment Act 32 of 2007
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management guidelines for sexual
assault care. Department of Health:
Department of Health (2004) National
sexual assault policy. Department of
Health: Pretoria
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The road to justice: Victim empowerment
legislation in South Africa road map
Report-the-Road-to-Justice.pdf. Accessed
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K Dunkle, R Jewkes, H Brown, J McIntyre,
G Gray, S Harlow. Gender-Based
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use of violence: Interface of rape and
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M, Van Niekerk A, Suffla S (2009)
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L, van der Merwe L, Jewkes, R (2004)
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her intimate partner: A national study
of female homicide in South Africa.
Medical Research Council: Pretoria
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Protection from Harassment Act 17 of 2011
Raising voices: SASA activist kit on
preventing violence against women
download.php Accessed 10 April 2012
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Rape Trial. (eds Moffett H. C. van der
Merwe, Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust.
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running’: Barriers to accessing post-rape
health care in South Africa. Research
Report. Gender, Health and Justice
Research Unit: University of Cape Town
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simplified guide to your rights against
sexual violence. The Women’s Legal
Centre: Cape Town
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Note about the photographs:
When the book was being written and designed we were faced with the
reality that rape and abuse is very grim, and very difficult to portray in
illustrations or photographs. Rather than portraying the horror of it, we
decided to show who is affected. We did this by photographing women
in their real environments – as strong women – rather than victims.
Instead of the TAC paying commercial models, the women volunteered
to be present in the book as a stand against abuse and gender-based
violence. It was a brave thing to do and we thank them. They represent
all women, as violence against women does not know age, race, religion,
culture or sexual orientation.
Case studies of gender-based violence
021 422 1700