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

29 November 2016

A young girl trapped in conditions of poverty, putting her at risk of falling victim to sexual violence, like her older sister. Photo: Marcus Finiosse

“Large open spaces between neighbourhoods are where people are robbed or violated. Here, it is hard for victims to call for help.” Photo: Mitchelle Motshwari

“Moral support, courage, and sharing give us hope that sexual violence will be defeated someday.” Photo: Rosina Palai

She tells us: “I had to find the courage to overcome my difficult situation by doing what I love: healing the elderly with my traditional medicine.” Photo: Tshiamo Matlhabe

These children say they go into this unfinished building with other boys and girls when their parents are not watching: “We play ‘house’, and do what our parents do at our house: we play husband and wife, cook, sit and watch TV, go to bed with our wives, and wake up and clean our ‘house’.” Photo: Mitchelle Motswari

Overcrowded health facilities may deter people from seeking care after being victims of sexual violence. Photo: Tshiamo Matlhabe

Excessive drinking is one way that people cope with poverty and lack of healthy recreational activities. This has an influence on sexual behavior and choices. Photo: Tshiamo Matlhabe

This abandoned house hides the memory of a 9-year-old boy who was molested by his uncle. Even though no-one lives there anymore, the community tells us that it is still being used for bad things at night. Photo: Mitchelle Motswari

Here there is a large open area next to the school where thieves wait for their victims. They usually strike when people walk alone or at night. This group is trying to end this by cutting the long grass that they use as hiding places before perpetrating their crimes. Photo: Mitchelle Motswari

This tap runs so slowly that the boy takes a long time to fill up his bottle with water. When even basic services are lacking or faulty, issues such as sexual violence can be overlooked. Photo: Mitchelle Motswari

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.

Latest News