A 2017 report titled Rape Justice in South Africa, by the Medical Research Council on behalf of the National Prosecuting Authority, revealed that only 8% of reported rapes result in conviction while the 2016/17 Crime Statistics published by the South African Police Service showed 49 960 reported sexual offences.
Yet, according to the Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust, as few as one in nine survivors of sexual offences actually report crimes to officials due to reporting barriers including a lack of faith in the criminal justice system. That puts the estimated number of sexual offences closer to 450 000.
“We believe that the answer to this problem is for our government to establish more specialised sexual offences courts. These courts support rape survivors and have been proven to increase conviction rates as well as decreasing the time it takes to finalise cases. By increasing the number of specialised courts in South Africa, currently reported at 75 across the country, with the first one established in the early 1990s, we believe more survivors of sexual offences will be supported and have access to justice. Our research shows there is a distinct lack of information and support for survivors when entering the criminal justice system,” says Kathleen Dey from the Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust.
A donation of R950 000, made by the 1st for Women Foundation, will contribute to the Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust’s advocacy work through the Rape Survivors’ Justice Campaign. This campaign focuses on specialised sexual offences courts as well as the criteria for defining the courts and the laws which govern and regulate the establishment and functioning of these courts. The aim is to ensure higher conviction rates of perpetrators and to reduce the rates of secondary trauma experienced by survivors. The Rape Survivors’ Justice Campaign holds government accountable for its promise to roll out ten new sexual offences courts per year over the next three years, across South Africa.
Since 2005, 1st for Women Insurance, through its charitable trust, the 1st for Women Foundation, have been making a tangible and sustainable difference to the lives of thousands of South African women affected by abuse.
“1st for Women donates a portion of its customers’ monthly insurance premiums to the 1st for Women Foundation and have managed to help over 90 000 survivors of gender-based violence through public advocacy training, community dialogues and workshops. We have raised over R60 million in the last 13 years to fight the abuse of women,” says Casey Rousseau, Marketing Manager, 1st for Women Insurance.
In addition to supporting the Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust, the 1st for Women Foundation has also over the years supported Alpha Trauma Centre, Bethany Home, Centre for Community Justice and Development (CCJD), Masimanyane, Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children, Women’s Legal Trust, Lawyers Against Abuse and People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA).
As the abuse of women is such a multifaceted problem, and the ways to address it must be done holistically, 1st for Women also launched an online platform in 2017 called For-Women.co.za, with the objective to unite all South Africans under one voice in the fight against women abuse. For-Women.co.za provides a database of NPOs to women affected by abuse. It allows South Africans and corporates to connect with specific NPOs to offer help and support.
The platform has been structured into the three pillars of prevention, preparation and provision, so that no matter what situation of abuse a woman may find herself in, she will be able to easily and quickly access the help she needs.
“With one in four women being abused on a daily basis in South Africa, the conversation must be top of mind and should be raised at every opportunity. We have to tackle this problem together and through strength in numbers we can make a lasting difference,” says Rousseau.