Rape Crisis centre could close

2007-11-27 00:00

“The amount is in the region of R730 000 and it’s money that we have really battled to save. We worked hard to fund-raise this amount bit by bit with cake sales and other initiatives.” Life Line has been subsidising the operation of Rape Crisis, but with this setback, they will no longer be able to. “Rape Crisis will sadly be the first casualty, but Life Line now too is under threat.”

Harrison said this meant their routine activities for the 16 Days of Activism had to be severely curtailed this year. “It is ironic that during this period, when the country focuses on the scourge of violence against women and children, this critical resource is under threat.”

A vital programme run by Rape Crisis includes the placing of trained counsellors to work with communities at six centres including Northdale Hospital, Ixopo and Kokstad.

“Fortunately, these people are now on the department of Health’s payroll, but Rape Crisis provides vital support to them in terms of debriefing and on-going training. It would simply be irresponsible to abandon them,” she said.

Harrison is determined that Rape Crisis must not close. “They are doing fantastic work. During the public sector strike recently we had an elderly woman who was raped in the midlands. The hospitals were closed, but the community got together and knew that they should call Rape Crisis. They then escorted the counsellors to the woman’s home. This shows what excellent buy-in there is to the Rape Crisis concept.”

Fritse Muller, the Rape Crisis co-ordinator, said that while rape statistics are on a downward trend in South Africa, the KwaZulu-Natal midlands are an exception.

“We are seeing more rape cases year on year here. I would be very worried about the rising numbers of victims if we had to close our doors.”

She said the counsellors are able to provide not only immediate support and comfort straight after a rape, but in the long-term help survivors to integrate back into society and move on with a life untainted by bitterness and fear, and with skills learned from an empowerment process the counsellors provide.

Harrison said she has approached a number of people for assistance and has a small group of business people advising on financial matters.

stephs@witness.co.za

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