Neglecting women’s well-being, neglecting women’s work?
Domestic violence is the most common form of violence experienced by South African women and causes the greatest number of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) cases in women, according to the South African Stress and Health Survey conducted by the University of Cape Town and Johns Hopkins University. The same study found that rape, another crime overwhelmingly experienced by women and girls, was the form of violence most likely to result in PTSD, in addition to causing the most severe and long-term forms of PTSD . But this is not all: depression, anxiety, suicidality, substance abuse, repeated victimisation, disability, HIV-infection and chronic physical health problems may also arise following an experience of rape or domestic violence. Good services to victims and their families are therefore crucial, both in ameliorating post-traumatic stress, as well as preventing some of these other health consequences from developing.
25 February 2014
NGOs urge Minister Gordhan to address the chronic under-funding of rape and domestic violence services and the under-valuing of NGOs’ work.
Ahead of the National Budget speech on Wednesday, 26 February the Shukumisa Campaign is urging Minister Pravin Gordhan to recognise demands for better services for survivors of rape and domestic violence. This is in the wake of a report released today by the Campaign which found that funding cuts to just 17 organisations serving this group of victims led to the loss of 100 jobs between 2010 and 2013. At least 10 services provided by these 17 organisations were also closed.
Tomorrow, 29 January 2014, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Women, Children and People with Disabilities will commence with public hearings on the Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality bill.
Civil society organisations including large national NGOs and locally based CBOs working on gender issues and women’s rights around the country strongly support developments for women’s empowerment and gender equality, but have come out strongly to reject the bill in its current form. At civil society workshops held in November last year, there was agreement that women in South Africa don’t need another piece of legislation that won’t be implemented, government’s priority should be enforcing existing laws.
An article from the South African Medical Journal, reporting on the training given to doctors completing their hospital internships in KZN, finds that the doctors want training to manage rape survivors.
“The 2-year internship period for medical graduates began in South Africa in 2005 and has never been formally evaluated. This study assessed the perceptions of community service medical officers (COSMOs) working at district hospitals (DHs) in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) to determine whether the 2-year internship programme had adequately prepared them for community service (CS).
….Family medicine scored second in knowledge and third in skills, with respondents confident in their ability to manage tuberculosis (TB) and HIV. This is encouraging as TB is the leading cause of death in SA and the most prevalent opportunistic infection in HIV-infected patients.
Weaknesses were identified as the ability to manage undifferentiated conditions [and] medico-legal issues including dealing with rape survivors…”
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The Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill is being considered by parliament and is an effort by the state to address the significant gender inequalities and violations of the rights of women, girls and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and intersex (LGBTI) people that persist in South Africa.
While this sounds like a good thing, the bill will achieve very little in its current form to address the inequality and disempowerment of women and of gender non-conforming groups in South Africa because it contains no provision to challenge or address patriarchal value systems in South Africa.
South Africa remains a deeply patriarchal society, none of the initiatives to date have shifted the secondary status and subservient place that most women and girls continue to experience in their homes, community structures or the workplace. The lower value placed on women and girls in relation to men and boys in almost all settings of their lives underpins the persistence of discrimination, violation and injustice experienced by women.
Although parts of the WE&GE Bill provide an important foundation for future legislation promoting gender equality, significant revision of other parts is essential to ensure that the proposed legislation does not duplicate existing legislation and further strain limited resources.
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