Child rape survivors left without counselling

2018-11-29 07:21
Forensic nurse Beatrice Mongale demonstrates how child survivors of sexual violence may communicate about their ordeal using dolls at the Kgomotso Care Centre in Boitekong, Rustenburg. (Siyathuthuka Media, GroundUp)

Forensic nurse Beatrice Mongale demonstrates how child survivors of sexual violence may communicate about their ordeal using dolls at the Kgomotso Care Centre in Boitekong, Rustenburg. (Siyathuthuka Media, GroundUp)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

A survey of 135 health facilities designated to care for survivors of sexual violence in South Africa found that nearly half do not offer counselling services to child survivors of rape, and one in five offer no counselling services at all, Ground reports.

This is according to a new "Untreated Violence" report by Doctors Without Borders (MSF), confirming critical gaps in the provision and availability of mental healthcare for survivors of sexual violence, especially regarding the poor.

The Department of Health has designated 265 public healthcare facilities - mostly hospitals - across all provinces to provide medical and psychological care to survivors of sexual violence. But most forms of mental health treatment are unavailable.

MFS contacted all 265 facilities; 39 could not be reached as their telephones did not work; another 39 did not respond after five calls; and 52 declined to participate. In total, only 135 (51%) participated in the study and of these 45% did not provide counselling for children.

Health24: Know the signs of child abuse

Yolanda Hanning, an MSF psychologist working in the North West, said "76% of facilities do not offer counselling services around the clock; whereas 39% of facilities say they provide no risk assessment for suicide. This reality of erratic and unavailable services turns accessing mental healthcare into a lottery for survivors of sexual violence, which can potentially lead to survivors taking their own lives."

According to the report: "This is an extremely serious limitation of current services, particularly given the relatively high frequency of serious mental health consequences of sexual violence."

No counselling for victims of intimate partner violence

Some of the other concerning statistics are: 20% do not provide trauma counselling for victims of acute violence; 4% provided no mental health services at all; 62% did not have a child-friendly space. Only 13% had social care groups for victims of sexual violence. Only 17% had a healthcare provider on call 24 hours per day, seven days a week, to provide mental health counselling.

More than half indicated that there are no mental health services for victims of intimate partner violence.

The report states that "sexual violence in an intimate partner relationship, especially in transactional ("blesser-blessee") relationships, are missed and patients are not given support and care. In addition, many survivors of sexual violence do not immediately disclose the incident. It is also of concern that someone experiencing intimate partner violence in the absence of sexual violence does not receive counselling."

Only 53% of facilities had access to drugs to treat acute anxiety for victims of sexual violence. This medication assists in stabilising a victim who has experienced trauma.

All the facilities should be able to provide counselling services 24 hours per day, seven days per week. But according to the study the system fails the victims.

"There are considerable gaps in both the availability and nature of services that exist for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in designated facilities, the very facilities specifically designed to meet their needs. As a consequence, many opportunities to reduce the harm associated with sexual violence are not realised.

"Even survivors who make it to care, in many cases, fail to receive the help they need."

'No political will'

Lisa Vetten, Mellon doctoral fellow at the University of the Witwatersrand, with more than 20 years of experience in the field of gender violence, told GroundUp that the neglect of post-rape care was part of the neglect of both social welfare services and mental health services in South Africa.

"Both are very under-funded and have been so for years. Social welfare services like post-rape care are seen as 'soft' issues, meaning that they're not budget priorities in the way 'hard' issues are (like unemployment).

"There is no political will to do anything about this. Many of the subsidies paid by the Department of Social Development to counsellors and other NGO staff who provide services to women are below the minimum wage. This was raised in Parliament and with the Presidency. Nothing has changed – even though vague promises have been made to the sector about improving their working conditions since 1999.

"Much of the welfare sector is built on the exploitation of women NGO workers. True commitment is measured by the rands and cents spent on addressing women's needs and rights – not the fine words said during the 16 Days [of activism] and its speeches."

This was the third in the "Untreated Violence" series by MSF, called: "Critical gaps in mental healthcare for survivors of sexual violence in South Africa".

The first report established the extent of sexual and direct violence in the platinum mining belt. The second report focused on the general gap in public health services and forensic nursing for survivors of sexual violence across the country.

Comment from the Department of Health will be added when received.
Read more on:    crime  |  child abuse
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

IT Manager (contract)

Cape Town CBD
Communicate Cape Town IT
R330 000.00 - R458 000.00 Per Year

Reporting Accountant

Cape Town
Network Finance Professional / Prudential
R310 000.00 - R360 000.00 Per Year

Cluster Financial Manager

Cape Town
Network Finance
R950 000.00 - R1 000 000.00 Per Year

Property [change area]

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.