Victims of sexual exploitation

Support for victims of sexual exploitation

Attending a workshop on human trafficking
In South Africa, a woman is raped every ten minutes. A total of 40% of young people under the age of 18 report that they have been raped at least once in their lives. For rape victims from the townships and rural regions in particular, there is a lack of professional support. Our partner organisation LifeLine in Pietermaritzburg trains young volunteers to become counsellors and sets up drop-in centres at district hospitals for victims of sexual exploitation.
For large sections of the South African population, rape is a part of daily life. In the townships and the rural regions of South Africa, the social fabric of families has often been permanently destroyed. Poverty, high unemployment and alcohol are factors which lead to a lack of future prospects and a feeling of powerlessness that can be released in violence. Very few of the rape cases that are taken to court result in a conviction. In South Africa there are too few public institutions and hospitals able to deal properly with the victims of sexual abuse. The state health system is confined to providing free medication. Victims of violence in the lower social classes have no access to the psychosocial support they need.

Tried and tested model - LifeLine
The project being run by the organisation LifeLine is a model that has been tried and tested several times. Drop-in centres for giving psychosocial support to the victims of violence have been successfully established in a number of rural districts. The project team works very closely with traditional and official community leaders, members of the community and local hospitals. LifeLine builds drop-in centres at the hospitals - known as Crisis Care Centres - where victims of violence receive professional medical and psychosocial assistance.

HIV prevention
The risk of HIV infection is one of the most important factors when a rape occurs. When the victim comes to the Crisis Care Centre, an initial medical examination is carried out which includes an HIV test. If the person is negative, post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is administered, which must be done no more than 72 hours after the sexual intercourse took place. After three months, the HIV test is repeated to confirm the negative status. If the victim is positive at the initial examination, information and advice on treatment follow. In such a case, the victim had already been infected with HIV previously.

The state takes over the costs
The aim of our partner organisation is that, after a set-up phase lasting two to three years, the drop-in centre and the related costs are fully incorporated in the health expenditure of the hospital. LifeLine has so far been successful in this regard in all the districts where it has worked.

Actively involving the young unemployed
Another factor in the success of the project is the active involvement of young people from the violence-afflicted communities. About 20 unemployed young people who are well motivated and already have some experience of voluntary work are trained by LifeLine to become psychosocial counsellors. Two of those young people will be employed at the drop-in centre at the hospital. The other 18 young people act as community mentors and carry out information and prevention work in their communities, and support the victims of violence when they go to police stations. In this way the young people can build up valuable work experience which helps them - as has been shown in many cases - to find paid employment.

Forty years of experience
LifeLine Pietermaritzburg has been in existence since 1972 and is part of the LifeLine Southern Africa network, which operates in five countries of southern Africa. Originally, the organisation began with a telephone hotline, which still exists today. Over 90% of LifeLine's work now takes place in the communities and districts. In 1998, LifeLine Pietermaritzburg began to build up its services for the victims of violence in district hospitals and its prevention work in the communities. terre des hommes schweiz has been supporting LifeLine since 2010.

Social change begins with individuals
In the long term, the situation regarding violence in South Africa can only change if the underlying causes are tackled. That is why LifeLine attaches great importance to awareness work in the communities and trains young people to carry it out because they are best placed to know their community and its problems. The young people work with small groups, using a solution-focused approach. Working on the assumption that every individual is an expert on their own situation, the small groups discuss the specific types of violence in their community and develop locally adapted solutions. This is how social change begins.
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