App to aid rape survivors proposed

A cellphone application to keep rape survivors in touch with police‚ prosecutors‚ nurses‚ social workers and psychologists working on their cases is on the cards.

The Pretoria-based Foundation for Professional Development (PEPFAR) is currently working with focus groups to determine if an app to keep rape survivors informed of the progress of court cases against perpetrators and give them access to counselling as well as medical advice will be well-received.

PEPFAR research fellow Nomsa Mahlalela on Monday said the aim of the app was to enhance case management at Thuthukela Care Centres‚ where all rape survivors are taken to after an incident has been reported to police.

Described as one-stop centres‚ Thuthukela Care Centres ensure that police‚ nurses‚ doctors‚ social workers‚ psychologists and prosecutors are available to the rape survivor at one location.

Between 400 to 600 rape survivors‚ some for follow-up sessions‚ are seen to at the centres each month.

“At the moment‚ a case management system does not exist. For instance‚ if a rape survivor presents at the centre‚ currently there is no system to inform them of their cases in court. We have found there is a need to develop a functional system that will help the centres’ managers and the rape survivors‚” Mahlalela said.

She said the app will also hold police‚ the National Prosecuting Authority‚ the department of health and non-governmental organisations to account.

“It will also be a platform for rape survivors to raise their voices on their experiences at the centres. This will hold the gender-based violence support service providers to account so we can improve the system.”

PEPFAR has been given a grant by gender-based violence project Making All Voices Count.

“We have written a research proposal and now are taking the proposal to rape survivors to find out if this app will help them.

“We also are researching what type of phones most of the survivors have access to so we can develop the app accordingly‚” Mahlalela said.

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