Protection from violence and abuse
Progress towards the universal realisation of human rights in South Africa is hampered by high rates of violence against women and children, the continued spread of HIV, and the frequent absence of men’s positive presence in children’s lives.
One woman or child in every 833 people is raped, which is far above the global average of one in 10,000. The real level of rape is much higher, as many cases go unreported: many victims are too disempowered, too intimidated or too fearful of further traumatisation in the criminal justice system to step forward. Most women who experience violence are victims in their own homes, at the hands of their husbands or partners. Where women are unprotected, children are equally at risk: child abuse is often correlated with domestic violence.
In order to prioritise violence against children on the political agenda and strengthen the national response, UNICEF commissioned a major study on this highly critical issue, which will be released in 2012. Exposure to physical, sexual, emotional or economic violence has profound and lasting effects on children’s development. The research aims to provide evidence-based data to address and prevent the social determinants of violence against girls and boys.
A breakthrough achievement in 2011 was the announcement of the establishment of the National Advisory Council on Gender-based Violence. Its role is to coordinate prevention and response efforts. The council’s creation demonstrates South Africa’s political will to address violence against children and women as a national priority.
UNICEF is also involved in developing a national risk assessment toolkit and training programme to help social workers to identify and respond to child abuse, neglect and exploitation.
UNICEF continues to support services for survivors of violence. Thuthuzela Care Centres (TCC) – ‘one-stop’ hospital-based centres for medical, legal and counselling support for abused children and women – are present in communities countrywide. Between January and October 2011, more than 20,000 people, nearly 50 per cent children, were assisted.