More help for violence victims

Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Gabi Khumalo

Pretoria - While health care and educational professionals are always in contact with victims of violence, they are unable to assist them due to lack of knowledge on how to recognise victims of violence.

In a bid to equip these professionals on how to recognise and respond to victims of violence, a newly launched Gender-Based Violence Capacity Development Project will develop a series of training programmes tailored to the working environment of health care and educational professionals.

Launched on Tuesday, the project aims to train 3 825 health care and educational professionals on violence-related subjects, including recognising and responding to gender-based violence. This will include training community service doctors on how to collect forensic evidence in violence-related injury cases, especially rape cases, using standardised guidelines and evidence collection kits. 

The project will be rolled out with the Foundation for Professional Development (FPD) in collaboration with the National Centre for Knowledge (NCK) on Men's Violence against Women at Uppsala University Hospital in Sweden, through the support of the Swedish International Development Agency.

FPD Managing Director, Dr Gustaaf Wolvaardt, said that violence-prevention training will also be extended to teachers, as well as antiretroviral therapy (ART) adherence counsellors, with the aim of improving their ability to recognise gender-based violence amongst female patients attending public sector ART clinics.

"An important output of the programme is to develop a service directory that will list all government and civil society resources available in each province, which can be used by participants of the training programme to identify support organisations for victims of violence," said Wolvaardt.

NCK Coordinator for Training, Lina Ploug, said the project aimed to improve knowledge, attitudes and skills of healthcare and educational professionals.

"The courses will include training of ... doctors and health care workers ... as well as training of educators," Ploug explained.

Ploug also shared Swedish examples of concrete measures of addressing violence against women, which include a national 24-hour telephone support line, where the victims can call or text if they need assistance.

"The line is free of charge, not registered on the phone bill and the caller can be anonymous if she wants to," she said.

Rape survivor Zoe Harris, 35, commended the initiative, adding that it will assist most victims who are living with the trauma without receiving any support.

"It's a terrible experience, you feel isolated. I would encourage the victims to stand up and speak out and say enough is enough," said Harris.

South African Medical Association Chairperson, Norman Mabasa, also welcomed the initiative and encouraged donors to continue doing good deeds as they were investing in individuals' futures. - BuaNews