Sonke Gender Justice is alarmed by recent media reports which claim that half of the Thuthuzela Care Centres (TCCs) across the country are without counselling services or forced to rely on only one or two social workers to assist victims of sexual abuse and violence, due to lack of funding.1 This is partly because funding from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria is no longer available.
TCCs provide a critical service to survivors of sexual abuse and domestic violence by establishing a one-stop shop for survivors to obtain medical assistance, psycho-social support services and necessary legal assistance. TCCs are crucial because they establish a victim-centred support for survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) that aims to provide compassionate support and assistance, and to avoid potential secondary victimisation.
Sonke is deeply concerned that the lack of funding for TCCs impacts NGOs providing important support to survivors of sexual violence, especially in the most under-served parts of the country.
Research shows that TCCs form a critical component of reducing the transmission of HIV/AIDS and provide Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) to those exposed to HIV and/or STIs. TCCs are thus a crucial component in the fight to reduce the transmission of HIV/AIDS.
During the “Presidential Summit against Gender-Based Violence and Femicide” in November 2018, President Ramaphosa described TCCs as one of government’s “more effective interventions” and stated that government requires “concrete proposals” on how to run the centres.2 In expressing his commitment to end GBV, President Ramaphosa also stated: “We cannot, and we will not, rest until we have brought those figures down to zero. We are aiming for a femicide rate of zero per 100 000. We want to reach a point where no woman, child or man has to experience the violence, violation and trauma of rape. There is no acceptable level of gender-based violence. We want to eradicate it.”3
Sonke calls on President Ramaphosa to stand by his promise to support the work done by TCCs, and to this end, make the necessary resources available to ensure that TCCs obtain the necessary financial and institutional support.
It is vital that Treasury’s allocation of resources to provinces is revisited, especially as they relate to provision of funds to TCCs. Finally, we call on the Department of Social Development to urgently contribute financially to close the current funding gap.