Reporting any form of assault.

18 Sep

We live in a society that violence against women (VAW) has become a norm, we acknowledge the high levels but we have become numb in our reactions. Over the past few months there as been an increased report on VAW crimes. Many are shocked saying that the number have suddenly escalated. The shock is evident but the numbers have always ben high, its just that with the emergence of social media, they are now being publicised.
We have a number of problems that we need to look at.
The fact that VAW has become a norm.
The fact that women are not reporting the crimes and if they do, they withdraw the cases.
The fact that some of our police do not take these crimes seriously and undermine the survivors as well as take them through a second level of victimisation when reporting the crime.
The fact that some police officers work hand in hand with rapists, perpetrators and abusers.
The fact that our society blames the survivors for what has happened to them.

There are a lot more areas of concern but I would like to focus on these five.
The centre for the study of violence and reconciliation, (CSVR) issue a report in partnership with OxfamSA on the high level of VAW in South Africa. The report was named: VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IN SOUTH AFRICA: A COUNTRY IN CRISIS. This research contributes towards explaining the high prevalence of VAW in South Africa, and presents recommendations to inform interventions by women, government departments and the wider society for addressing VAW. It does so from the experiences and perceptions of survivors of VAW, a perspective that is under-explored. The report also suggests that attempts at tackling VAW in South Africa should not be looked at in isolation from other structural and social problems.

The fact that many cases still go unreported is a major issue. Many of the reasons are as follows:
Many do not know that they have the right to report and open a case and get a protection order.
Many fear the abuser.
Many are financially dependent on the abuser and fear that by reporting the crime, they will not survive on their own.
Many fear intimidation
Many are coerced by family members and friends not to press charges.

There have been many cases reported where the police have bene at fault. I can personally write on two cases where this has happened. In my previous blogs I have written on the Hillbrow police station, when were called in regarding a rape case. They deployed six male officers to the scene and on arrival, the police found the perpetrator and let him go, they denied the survivor medical treatment and told her to sleep it off. On many discussions with the station regarding the conduct of their officers, I was told that the matter will be handled internally. My source on the inside revealed that nothing happened and the matter was pushed under the carpet.

Another case was the Moffatview police station where a survivor went in to report the crime and the women police officer in charge questioned why she was with a Nigerian man, as the accused was Nigerian. She then refused to open the case and as the survivor was adamant she waited 90 minutes and the women was forced to open the case. The investigators in that case did not follow protocol and the case was taken off the roll, we had the case reopened with help from officers from the high court. This has so many levels of misconduct from not following protocol and opening the case at the request of the survivor, her xenophobic attitude to the crime and that the investigating officer did not follow proper procedures in the case. We later discovered that the accused brother and employer had paid off the investigators and had called the medical doctor who had examined her. The medical doctor confirmed that she had received an anonymous phone call from a women asking that she, the medical doctor, change her statement in terms of the medical findings. The anonymous women asked that the doctor report stating that in her findings, there as no level of trauma but that the sexual encounter could have been consensual.

These are just two cases and there are many more.

As we continue to campaign about breaking the stigma attached to VAW, we need to call out all forms of misconduct that are happening at our police sestina and courts.
Our police minster Mr Fikile Mbalula, has confirmed that he is rolling out a new strategy in terms of police handling such cases. Although tis is not the first time that our police have promised to stand with NGO’s and work towards combatting abuse, we will support this decision We need to ensure that police stations who do not follow protocol should be held accountable.
Through POWA, we are working with a legal team, who will be addressing cases where women have felt that they received secondary victimisation from police and the courts.
For more information on this contact: 011 6424345

Things to remember when reporting a case:

What happened to you, is not your fault.
What you were wearing has nothing to do with the fact that you were violated.
You did not ask to be raped or abused.
You have the right to open a case and receive a case number. If a police officer refuses to open a case or blames you or makes you feel uncomfortable, get that persons name and badge number and report them immediately.
If an investigating officer tells you tat you should not continue with your case as the procedure is long and painful, immediately request another officer. Nobody has the right to determine if you are strong enough to handle a court case. The investigating officers should be reported.
If the crime happened in your home, keep the evidence., such as broken glass, anything that may have his finger prints or DNA on.

When do you not report a crime?
NEVER. All crimes should be reported no matter what the circumstances are.

For more information visit http://www.powa.co.za

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