Conference highlights plight of rape survivors

RAPE survivors continue to suffer secondary victimisation because of the lack of support offered to them afterwards.

RAPE survivors continue to suffer secondary victimisation because of the lack of support offered to them afterwards.

Lisa Vetten, pictured, a senior researcher at the Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre, recently told a seminar in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, that there were still problems with the delivery of post-rape care.

The seminar highlighted problems faced by institutions providing health-care services for rape victims.

Vetten said facilities such as one-stop services found in urban areas allow victims to have access to police officers, counsellors and prosecution - all under one roof.

But in rural communities anonymity and confidentiality are difficult to maintain, she said.

Vetten said rural rape victims often did not receive proper health- care because of inadequate infrastructure and a shortage of doctors.

Over the years models of one-stop services had been implemented, but much work still had to be done, she said.

Nomawethu Douglas, a nursing sister at a medico-legal clinic in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, said police officers posted to the clinic to take rape victims' statements often failed to do this properly.

Solutions suggested included the training of nurses in forensics and the monitoring of police investigations.

Advocate Brandon Lawrence of the NPA's sexual offences unit said the Thuthuzela Care Centre model, established to improve services for rape victims, had played a significant role in securing guilty verdicts in cases that had been reported to them.

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