16 Days of No Violence Against Women & Children: Untreated violence in the Platinum Mining Belt

29 November 2016

In August during Women’s month, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) launched a hard-hitting report "Untreated Violence", exposing alarming levels of sexual violence, particularly rape, in the Rustenburg Local Municipality on South Africa’s platinum mining belt.

The report "Untreated Violence: The Need For Patient-centred Care for Survivors of Sexual Violence" in the Platinum Belt revealed that:
•    One in four women surveyed, reported being raped during their lifetime – and yet 95% of women who survived rape never told a medical professional about the incident.
•    Less than half of women surveyed knew that a treatment to prevent HIV could be taken after the rape occurred.
•    Many barriers including having few professional staff trained in forensic examination and primary health care facilities offering essential medical and psychosocial services prevent rape victims from receiving the quality care they require.

Once again, rape and sexual violence in South Africa is on the national agenda as we commemorate 16 Days of No violence against women and children. (25 November – 10 December).

Following the MSF survey, six MSF community health workers produced a "photo-voice" project to depict the daily realities and the lived experiences of the people they met through their work in the community.

The six set out cameras in hand during October 2016, to photograph and document the harsh realities of people, women in particular, as seen through their own eyes.

As part of their work the community health workers educate people about what constitutes sexual violence, and attempt to reduce the acceptability of violent behaviour and social stigma in the community. Crucially, they also explain how and where people can access healthcare services if they experience violence. They also provide information to communities about the medical consequences of sexual violence and seeking treatment.

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