Crucial support service launched for victims of sexual violence

04 July 2018 - 14:01
By Thando Mpembe
The Survivor’s Support Service will provide information needed by victims of sexual violence.
Image: 123RF/canjoena The Survivor’s Support Service will provide information needed by victims of sexual violence.

South African health news service‚ Health-e News‚ has created a Survivor’s Support Service – an online map directory of all Thuthuzela Care Centres‚ hospitals‚ clinics and shelters for survivors of sexual abuse.

The map is hosted on Health-e News’s website

The map allows users to find locations by searching for a city‚ town or address to find relevant facilities. Once a facility is selected‚ the exact location and contact details of the facility will be shown to the user‚ making it easier for victims of sexual abuse to find help as soon as possible.

A checklist of services will be displayed‚ with information provided according to what the person needed if they have been a victim of rape. This includes emergency contraception‚ HIV testing‚ vaccinations against tetanus and hepatitis B‚ antibiotics for sexually-transmitted diseases‚ and counselling for trauma.

Users are also given the option to rate the facility they received help from.

OurHealth project manager Masutane Modjadji that they were hoping that the rating system would aid in providing better services to women who have been raped.

“If someone is treated badly from a specific facility‚ this will help us bring it to the attention of the relevant authorities‚” she said. “We will be able to bring attention towards the level of care of certain facilities and notify the Department of Health should any problems arise.”

The map on Survivor Support requires a WiFi or mobile data connection‚ but the service can still be used without an internet connection.

Health-e has also designed a messaging service that allows content to be exchanged for free through any mobile phone in five different languages. The service can be used through dialling *134*1994*1#.

The campaign was inspired by a Doctors Without Borders study in Rustenburg in 2017‚ which showed that 95% of rape survivors did not go to a health facility after being raped and only 50% of women knew that HIV was preventable after rape by getting ARVs within 72 hours.

“The rape statistics in this country are equivalent to that of a conflict zone‚ and yet women aren’t accessing support that they need‚” said Health-e’s Kim Harrisberg.

“They now are experiencing the trauma twice - when it happens and then when they don’t receive adequate treatment.”

The initiative was created to give more support to women who have been victims of sexual violence.

“Most people don’t know what to do after an ordeal and we hope to give women a space where they can find psychological support to minimise trauma” Modjadji said.