Tag Archives: Sexual Violence

Is this a case of Structural Racism?


The Oscar Pistorius extensive media coverage at present highlights the extreme prejudice, discrimination, unequal treatment and racism towards the plight of violence against women and children in our country here in South Africa.

A case that has received very limited media coverage in the media is the case of Zanele Khumalo, also a model who was strangled and raped at her parents’ home by her 28 year old boyfriend Thato Kutumela. Kutumela was found guilty last year and is currently in court, two doors away from where the Oscar Pistorius case is being heard, arguing for mitigation of sentence.

According to the SA Institute of Race Relations research, 2500 women are killed by their intimate partners every year.

• Who are they?
• Where do they come from?
• Why is their story not being told?
• What colour (race) are they?

Is South Africa experiencing structural racism? Surely everyone has the right to be treated with respect and dignity?

What exactly is “structural racism”?

As such structural racism is the most profound and pervasive form of racism — it is not something that could possibly have disappeared in 1994 when political power was formally handed over by the white minority. Because of the way in which structural racism normalises white dominance and superiority, it entrenches and perpetuates inequalities in power, access, opportunities, and treatment. This is not necessarily done knowingly and intentionally: the power of structural racism is exactly its ability to make itself invisible. This allows its beneficiaries to deny its existence (and genuinely believing in its absence) while benefiting from it.

Structural racism is more difficult to locate in a particular institution because it involves the reinforcing effects of multiple institutions and cultural norms, past and present, continually producing new, and re-producing old forms of racism.


In the Oscar Pistorius case, certain facts regarding the injuries sustained and the post mortem results were withheld from the general public “to protect the dignity of the victim”.

What about Anene Booysen? Her gruesome injuries and post mortem results were shared in all media (print and electronic). What about her dignity? What about her family who constantly had to be reminded about her gruesome death? Her perpetrator’s trial was not televised internationally like the Oscar/Reeva story.

There are many similarities between the Oscar/Reeva story and the Thato/Zanele story i.e.
• Oscar is a male in his twenties and so is Thato
• Reeva was an attractive model with a promising future and so was Zanele

The spotlight is on the “white” case instead of equal treatment for the people involved, irrespective of their colour, race, class or background. Is this what “justice for all” means?

Is the life of a “Black” person less valuable than that of a “White” person? Does being “Black” or any other race mean we are invisible? Am I any less of a person just because I don’t have money and access to resources?

What do you think?
Is this a case of Structural Racism?

Clip Art Graphic of a Pillar Cartoon Character

Zanele Khumalo (a model), five months pregnant with her boyfriend’s child. Raped and murdered by her boyfriend Thato Kutumela in her parents’ home.

His sentence?
10 years in prison for rape PLUS
20 years in prison for murder
Sentences to run concurrently which means he would be eligible for parole after serving just one third of his sentence i.e. about 6 years in prison.

SVRI letter to UNAIDS re: why including gender equality & GBV in core programming is important

Gender Equality (slogan)

Do you know about the Sexual Violence Research Initiative (SVRI)?

You can find them at: http://www.svri.org

Do you know about the letter they wrote to UNAIDS entitled: Why including gender equality and gender-based violence in the core programming and as critical enablers in the new UNAIDS investment framework matters.

What are your views regarding this?

Sexual Violence Research Initiative (SVRI)

Announcement animation

We are now only a few days away from the SVRI Forum 2013 and we are looking forward to a wonderful conference in Bangkok! Please note that we will be resuming the SVRI Update in the week of 28 October.

We will however update the SVRI Twitter and Facebook platforms during the conference so make sure you follow us at @TheSVRI on Twitter or Sexual Violence Research Initiative on Facebook. We will be using the hashtag #SVRIForum – so please do look for this when searching for updates! Access the SVRI programme at: http://www.svri.org/forum2013/programme.htm for more information on presentations and events taking place next week.

This SVRI Update contains a variety of sexual violence related research and resources. If you would like to have your sexual violence related resources included in the Update, please send your materials to svri@mrc.ac.za. For more information and resources on sexual violence and the Sexual Violence Research Initiative visit http://www.svri.org.

Today’s SVRI Update includes the following:
[Summaries directly taken or adapted from source]

I. SVRI member requests
II. Sexual violence in the news
III. Websites
IV. Online publications/resources
V. Journal articles
VI. Events
VII. Funding links / research opportunities / fellowships and scholarships
VIII. Vacancies

I. SVRI member requests

The International Mobilizing Men for Violence Prevention Survey Project is inviting men who have attended an event or events related to preventing violence against women to participate in a new international survey. If this describes you, they would love to learn from you! Please consider visiting the survey at the link below – your experiences and insight are very important.

The goals of the survey are to:

· Learn more about what brings men to violence prevention events and longer- term violence prevention work

· Hear what men think about these events, and how they are impacted by participating

· Learn what might encourage more men to get involved in ending violence against women

The Project is interested in hearing from men who have attended a single violence prevention event AND from men who have been working on the issue of violence against women for any length of time. To learn more about the survey and how to participate, click here: http://umichssw.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_ekXEYmczky0Xrdb.You can also learn more about the project at: http://www.tacoma.uw.edu/social-work/mmvp-international-survey. [Source: Prevent-Connect].

II. Sexual violence in the news

Almost 40% of sexual violence against children ‘by under-18s’, The Irish Times, 9 October 2013: Almost 40 per cent of the perpetrators of sexual violence against children were themselves under the age of 18, a groundbreaking report from the Rape Crisis Network of Ireland (RCNI) finds.

New laws may fail to protect children in Sri Lanka, Inter Press Service News Agency, 9 October 2013: Stricter laws could curb the rising trend of child abuse in Sri Lanka, experts say. However, recommendations like witness protection, special courts and procedures to hear abuse cases and more legal assistance to victims are unlikely to be included in a new draft Child Protection Policy that is to be presented to parliament before the end of the year.

Violence against women in Latin America: Everyday aggression, The Economist, 21 September 2013: One night last year police received a call from worried residents of a wealthy area of San Salvador, El Salvador’s capital, who thought they had heard a woman being beaten up by her partner. A few minutes later they called back to say they had heard gunshots ring out from the house.

III. Websites

BRIDGE – Gender and social movements: Explore the site to find information, evidence and tools for activists who want to bring a gender perspective into the work of social justice movements, and for supporters of gender-just movements worldwide. [Source: AWID].

Emergency contraception: In-depth country information. ICEC and its partner organizations have collected in-depth information on issues such as national-level policies guiding EC use, women’s knowledge and use of EC, providers’ and key opinion leaders’ awareness of and attitudes toward EC, and the market availability of EC.For information on every country in the world, including what EC products are available, prescription status, and other access issues, please see our status and availability database. [Source: FCI].

Refugee portal: This portal to ensure that refugees have easy access to multilingual resources. Resources include topics of family life and parenting, early childhood, the U.S. school system (K-12), children’s books, and health/mental health. [Source: Child Welfare Librarian].

IV. Online publications/resources

A poor start in life predicts poor life outcomes: Investigating the potential impact of maternity and early child support in South Africa. The Centre for Health Policy. Policy brief, 2013: This policy brief was compiled from a report produced for the Department of Social Development entitled “State maternity and early child support – Investigating the potential impact of maternity and early child support in South Africa: An Options Assessment”. [Source: 60 percent].

Book chapter – Ending child trafficking as a human rights priority: Applying the spectrum of prevention as a conceptual framework. Rafferty, Y. In J. Segal and F. Denmark (Eds.), Violence against women across the life cycle: An international perspective, pp. 133-174, 2013: This two-volume set provides a comprehensively broad treatment of the global problem of violence against women, addressing less commonly discussed subjects such as domestic violence in lesbian couples, abuse within the context of war crimes, and the incidence of violence and abuse against women internationally as compared to within the United States. This chapter explores ending child trafficking as a human rights priority. Order online. [Source: PACE].

Confronting commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States. Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, 2013: This new report concludes that efforts to prevent, identify, and respond to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States require better collaborative approaches that build upon the capabilities of people and entities from a range of sectors. [Source: My Child Welfare Librarian].

V. Journal articles

Piloting community-based medical care for survivors of sexual assault in conflict-affected Karen State of eastern Burma. Tanabe M, Robinson K, Lee C.L et al. Conflict and Health, 7:12, 2013: The aim of this innovative study is to examine the safety and feasibility of community-based medical care for survivors of sexual assault to contribute to building an evidence base on alternative models of care in humanitarian settings. [Source: Women’s Refugee Commission].

Prevalence rates of male and female sexual violence perpetrators in a national sample of adolescents. Ybarra M.L, Mitchell K.L. JAMA Pediatr, ePub, 2013: This article reports national estimates of adolescent sexual violence perpetration and details of the perpetrator experience. [Source: JAMA].

Knowledge and perceptions of date rape among female undergraduates of a Nigerian University. Oshiname .FO, Ogunwale A.O, Ajuwon A.J. Afr. J. Reprod. Health, 17(3): 137-148, 2013: This paper focuses on knowledge and perceptions of Date Rape (DR) among female undergraduates of the University of Ibadan. The cross-sectional survey was conducted among 651 female undergraduates selected using a four-stage random sampling technique. [Source: SafetyLit].

Masculine norms, disclosure, and childhood adversities predict long-term mental distress among men with histories of child sexual abuse. Easton S.D. Child Abuse Negl, ePub, 2013: The purpose of this study was to examine factors related to mental distress among a large, non-clinical sample of men with histories of CSA. [Source: SafetyLit].

Rationalising predictors of child sexual exploitation and sex-trading. Klatt T, Cavner D, Egan V. Child Abuse Negl, ePub, 2013: This article examines case files for 175 young persons who attended a voluntary organization in Leicester, United Kingdom, which supports people who are sexually exploited or at risk of sexual exploitation. [Source: SafetyLit].

Depressive symptoms after a sexual assault among women: Understanding victim-perpetrator relationships and the role of social perceptions. Abrahams N, Jewkes R, Mathews S. Afr. J. Psychiatry, 16(4): 288-293, 2013: This article explores depression symptomatology four to six weeks post-rape in South Africa and examine whether this differs according to the circumstances of the rape. [Source: SafetyLit].

Predicting date rape perceptions: The effects of gender, gender role attitudes, and victim resistance. Black K.A, McCloskey K.A. Violence against Women, 19(8): 949-967, 2013: The effects of participant gender and victim resistance on date rape perceptions have been inconsistent. This study finds that women with traditional gender role attitudes were least likely to agree that the perpetrator was guilty of rape. [Source: SafetyLit].

Measuring the incidence and reporting of violence against women and girls in Liberia using the ‘neighborhood method’. Stark L, Warner A, Lehmann H, Boothby N, Ager A. Confl. Health, 7(1): 20, 2013: This paper reports on the use of a “neighborhood method” to measure the nature and incidence of violence against women and girls in post-conflict Liberia. [Source: SafetyLit].

Please note, to obtain a full copy of a journal article you may write to the author given as the contact person by the respective publishing house to request a copy.

VI. Events

Population futures: Revisiting South Africa’s National Development Plan 2030, 16 October 2013, Pretoria, South Africa. This event launches the second in the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) series of three briefs analysing the National Development Plan 2030 (NDP). [Source: ISS].

Seminar: Women, law and legal advocacy, 14-16 November, Washington, D.C, USA. The Public Leadership Education Network invites college women who are considering careers in law and legal advocacy to Washington, D.C. for a transformative career opportunity. In three days, students who are considering a legal career will learn the potential benefits of attending law school from women policymakers who work in policy every day. Speakers include women who are senior to mid-level professionals, and women who have just started out in Washington, D.C. Applications close: 11 October 2013. [Source: AWID].

Course: CREA’s Sexuality, gender, and rights institute, 11-17 January 2014, Khandala, Maharashtra, India. This annual, week-long residential course focuses on a conceptual study of sexuality. It examines the links between sexuality, rights, gender, and health and their interface with socio-cultural and legal issues. The participants critically analyse policy, research, and programme interventions using a rights-based approach. Applications close: 10 November 2013. [Source: AWID].

APSAC’s 22nd Annual National Colloquium, 11 – 14 June 2014, New Orleans, USA. This conference is one of the field’s premier forums for child abuse professionals to offer training presentations and report new research findings concerning legal, medical, mental health, investigative, preventive, and protective services work with abused and neglected children, their families, and perpetrators of abuse. Presentations are encouraged on all aspects of child maltreatment, including cultural diversity. Abstract submissions close: 11 October 2013. [Source: APSAC].

For more events visit: http://www.svri.org/calendar.htm

VII. Funding links / research opportunities / fellowships and scholarships

Fellowship opportunity: Human rights defenders 2013. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights offers two fellowships to provide an opportunity for young lawyers from OAS Member States to understand and apply the mechanisms of protection of the Inter-American System of Human Rights in the area of human rights defenders. [Source: AWID].

VIII. Vacancies

Research manager / Liverpool VCT / Nairobi, Kenya / Closing date: October 14, 2013. [Source: AWID Resource-Net Jobs: Monday, 7 October 2013].

Director, research & policy / Liverpool VCT / Nairobi, Kenya / Closing date: October 14, 2013. . [Source: AWID Resource-Net Jobs: Monday, 7 October 2013].

Gender programme officer / The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) / Nairobi, Kenya / Closing date: November 30, 2013. [Source: AWID Resource-Net Jobs: Monday, 7 October 2013].

Secretary-General / European Women’s Lobby / Brussels / Closing date: November 10, 2013. [Source: AWID Resource-Net Jobs: Monday, 7 October 2013].

Lecturer in gender and public policy / School of International and Public Affairs / Columbia University / New York / Open until filled. [Source: AWID Resource-Net Jobs: Monday, 7 October 2013].

Director – Young Changemakers Program / Akili Dada / Nairobi, Kenya / Closing date: October 15, 2013. [Source: AWID Resource-Net Jobs: Monday, 7 October 2013].

Gender specialist / International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) / Dakar, Senegal / Closing date: October 20, 2013. [Source: AWID Resource-Net Jobs: Monday, 7 October 2013].

Deputy representative (programme & operations) / UN Women / Monrovia, Liberia / Closing date: October 21, 2013. [Source: AWID Resource-Net Jobs: Monday, 7 October 2013].

Board of Trustees vacancy/ Gender and Development Network (GADN) / Closing date: October 21, 2013. [Source: AWID Resource-Net Jobs: Monday, 7 October 2013].

Chief of staff / UN Women / New York, U.S. / Closing date: October 28, 2013. [Source: AWID Resource-Net Jobs: Monday, 7 October 2013].

Sexual violence is a global issue that requires coordinated evidence-based responses.

The Sexual Violence Research Initiative is hosted by the Medical Research Council, South Africa. The SVRI aims to promote research on sexual violence and generate empirical data to ensure sexual violence is recognized as a priority public health problem. To learn more about the SVRI visit our website http://www.svri.org or contact us at svri@mrc.ac.za

To maintain or not to maintain, that is the question . . .

White Unicorn Animation

Do you live in South Africa? Are you planning or are you in the process of a divorce? Do you know what our law says about maintenance?

Do you know that you can apply for an Interim Maintenance Order while you are waiting for your divorce to be finalized to help with your expenses?

• Encompasses accommodation, food, clothes, medical and dental expenses and other necessities of life on a scale that is in line with the social position, lifestyle and financial resources of the parties. The scope of maintenance is always determined according to the standard of living of the parties concerned. In other words, you should be able to maintain the lifestyle you were accustomed to while you were married – you should not be worse off or better off.
• A child is entitled to reasonable maintenance to provide for his/her needs as in first bullet point above as well as in education and training and, where applicable, even recreation (sports, hobbies etc).
• In the assessment of maintenance for children their needs and the parent’s ability to pay are the primary factors to be considered, but the most important factor is always in the best interests of the child.
• Payments cannot be made directly to the child – it has to be done via the parent who has custody of the child.
• A father who has re-married must adjust his own standard of living rather than allow his children to be prejudiced i.e. he cannot get married again to “spite” his ex-wife or children.
• The Divorce Act provides for maintenance orders as well as to the division of the assets of a marriage. The court will decide how long the Maintenance Order will be in force – for a set period of time or until the death or re-marriage of the party who is to receive the maintenance.
• The means of support includes property that could be used to produce income.
• Duration of the marriage – if the marriage was of short duration, it should not be difficult for both spouses to pick up the threads of their previous lifestyles and means of support. However, if they have been married for a long time, it may be extremely difficult for the wife to become self-supporting because of her age, possible lack of job skills and experience

Before accepting your final Maintenance Order, please ensure provision is made for future earnings on your side. Think about the risk of losing your job (at your age) and the risk involved in getting another job and the risk of getting another job that will pay enough money for you to support your children.

In other words, if you are already struggling on your existing salary. What happens if you lose your job tomorrow? Do you have the necessary skills to get another better paying job? What is the risk of you getting another job at the same salary you are earning now? What is the risk of you never finding employment again due to your age? Your Lawyer must make allowances for all this BEFORE YOU SIGN THE FINAL MAINTENANCE ORDER.

You said he can keep his pension and you can keep yours – don’t be too hasty to say this. Think about your retirement years. How are you going to survive on your pension alone until you die?


• In terms of the Maintenance Act, an order for a lump sum payment of maintenance is possible.

• Rule 43 of the High Court rules provides an inexpensive and speedy remedy where the following are sought:
– Maintenance (pending the Divorce suite) i.e while the Divorce is pending
– A contribution towards costs of a pending matrimonial action

This will require the Applicant to deliver a Sworn Affidavit setting out what is claimed and the grounds for the claim (in your case, you don’t earn enough to cover all the expenses on your existing salary). Use the same form you used to apply for Maintenance to guide you as to how this Affidavit must be structured to strengthen your case.

Grounds for payment – must be based on fact. You cannot thumb suck. Provide copies of receipts/invoices etc if you have them to solidify your case. The objective of these proceedings is to be as inexpensive and as speedy as possible so provide as much information up front as possible so you don’t waste the Court’s time.

The Court will broadly speaking apply the principles relating to the NEED of the parties or of the child (children) concerned, means of the parties and their obligations to support the children or each other. The emphasis falls on a just and speedy decision.

• An Applicant is entitled to reasonable Interim Maintenance but not to luxuries.
• The fees which the Advocate and Attorney may charge are limited by the court rule. Where there is an existing Maintenance Order made by the Maintenance Court an application for Interim Maintenance cannot be brought to the High Court under rule 43.
• Interim Maintenance Orders in the Maintenance Court – A Maintenance Court can grant an Interim Order for maintenance pending a divorce and it can also replace or discharge an Interim Order it has made, or replace or discharge a High Court Order for Interim Maintenance.

Maintenance for children over 18
In terms of our law, a child becomes an adult these days at the age of 18. A lot of people believe that in fact that is when an obligation for maintenance ends.

The Maintenance Act itself does not comment on the duration of this responsibility to support a child and in the circumstances, the answer is found in our common law which provides that a parent has a duty to support the child, until the child becomes self-supporting. This was also confirmed in the 1999 case of Bursey v Bursey & Another in the Appellate Division. A child cannot be self-supporting, if for example, the child is still studying or if for example, the child is handicapped and cannot look after him/herself.
In terms of the new Children’s Act, maintenance is payable until the age of 18 years. Before the new Children’s Act came into effect, maintenance was payable by the parent in respect of the minor child until the minor child was 21 years of age or self-supporting, whichever event should occur first.
Section 305 (4) of the Children’s Act 38 of 2005 provides that “A person who is legally liable to maintain a child is guilty of an offence if that person, while able to do so, fails to provide the child with adequate food, clothing, lodging and medical assistance”. Section 305 (6) provides that a person can be sentenced to imprisonment of 10 years and provides “a person convicted of an offence in terms of subsection (1), (2), (3), (4) or (5) is liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding ten years, or to both a fine and such imprisonment”.

Child Protection Week

Baby in Bath Animation

27 May – 2 June is Child Protection Week.

Are we doing enough to protect our children?
Is the government doing enough to protect our children?

What do you think needs to be done to protect our children against violence, trauma and abuse?

What rape survivors need

Pooh and his duck

How well do you LISTEN? When someone wants to speak to you about something really important to them, do you actually listen or are you just hearing what they are saying?

Active listening takes effort and concentration. When someone wants to share an experience with you, they are putting a lot of trust in you.

Sometimes it is difficult to be a good listener because what you are being told, may bring up strong emotions in yourself. Your own inner voice may drown out what the other person is saying because you are shocked, hurt or unsure of what to say. You need to try to understand your own emotions – you will be able to concentrate more on the other person once you understand your own reactions.

There is a poem I heard many years ago that made a huge impact on me and I’ve never forgotten it. When someone wants to share an experience with me, some of the words of this poem spring to mind and I try to apply them by focussing only on the person sharing with me and I try to REALLY LISTEN!

When I ask you to listen to me and you start giving me advice, you have not done what I asked.

When I ask you to listen to me and you begin to tell me why I shouldn’t feel that way, you are trampling on my feelings.

When I ask you to listen to me and you feel you have to do something to solve my problem, you have failed me, strange as that may seem.

Listen! All I ask is that you listen.
Don’t talk or do – just hear me.

Advice is cheap; 20 cents will get you both Dear Abby and Billy Graham in the same newspaper. And I can do for myself; I am not helpless. Maybe discouraged and faltering, but not helpless.

When you do something for me that I can and need to do for myself, you contribute to my fear and inadequacy.
But when you accept as a simple fact that I feel what I feel, no matter how irrational, then I can stop trying to convince you and get about this business of understanding what’s behind this irrational feeling. And when that’s clear, the answers are obvious and I don’t need advice.

Irrational feelings make sense when we understand what’s behind them.

Perhaps that’s why prayer works, sometimes, for some people – because God is mute, and he doesn’t give advice or try to fix things. God just listens and lets you work it out for yourself.

So please listen, and just hear me.
And if you want to talk, wait a minute
for your turn – and I will listen to you.

Author Unknown

Pornography and its link with violence against women and children

Clip Art Graphic of a Pillar Cartoon Character



TopTV told South Africa’s Broadcasting Regulator on Thursday (14.03.2013) that a porn bouquet of sex channels “could kick-start TopTV’s recovery”.


I read somewhere recently that the Greek word “pornography” literally means pictures of prostitutes. Apparently, studies in the US show that 70 percent of women who appear in pornographic magazines, videos and films – and now the internet – are controlled by pimps who live off their earnings and force them into prostitution. 85 percent have been sexually abused as children and many of the women are survivors of rape and battery.

This means that most women being used in pornography are vulnerable and sexually exploited. Child pornography is evidence of serious crime: child sexual abuse.

Studies have shown that there is a strong link between the use of pornography and violence against women and children. Rapists, batterers and child molesters are often found to have large collections of pornography.

Hard core pornography – is explicit visual or verbal material that shows sexual intercourse in a degrading or violent manner.

Soft core pornography – is less explicit but also exposes genitals in a degrading manner.

Erotica – is sexually suggestive or arousing material that is free of sexism, racism and is respectful of all humans and animals portrayed – it is a healthy expression of human sexuality.

Now, I have the following questions to ask:

  • What do you feel when you see pornographic material (magazines, posters, advertisements, movies)?
  •  Do you think there is a link between legislation of pornography in South Africa and the rise in rape, battery, sexual abuse of women and children and adult and child      prostitution?
  •  Sex trafficking in women andchildren is increasing at an alarming rate – what can be done to protect women and children from becoming victims?