Blow the Whistle is making a significant contribution towards the fight against women and child abuse. The funds raised through the sale of whistles will be used to help support the establishment and equipping of a rape crisis centre in Howick, KZN, where child victims of sexual abuse will receive necessary medical assistance and where vital evidence will be collected, to help secure the convictions of perpetrators.
Funds raised by Blow the Whistle have been given to The DNA Project, which is allocating part of the funds donated to Angels Care, one of the anti-rape projects it supports. The centre is in the process of being built, and aims to assist vulnerable children from informal settlements around uMngeni municipal area. The NGO has a vision to restore dignity and provide support to child survivors of sexual violence.
Carolyn Hancock, Director of The DNA Project, is overseeing the development and construction of the Angels Care Centre. “The building, which will likely be completed by 1 April, will consist of a reception area, consulting room for SAPS/NPA, consulting room for social worker/counsellor, a medical examination room, bathroom facilities and even a bedroom where children can rest if they need to,” says Carolyn. “We are aiming to officially open doors on 1 June.”
Carolyn explains that although there are many reasons that child rape incidents go unreported, one of the primary reasons is the fact that many survivors, particularly children, lack access to services and support. In the cases where children do have access, a proper statement is often not obtained from the victim, and crucial evidence is not collected timeously. As a result of this, possible convictions of child rapists often fall through. This is where Angels Care Centre steps in to help as they provide access to all the necessary social, medical and legal services that ensure the child receives care and assistance in one location and in a timely manner. In addition, it aims to restore dignity to these children and provides a mechanism for a case to be followed through to the point where the offender is likely to be identified and convicted.
The Centre, situated a few metres away from the government hospital, works closely with the South African Police Services, Department of Health, Department of Social Development and the Department of Justice/National Prosecuting Authority to provide holistic help to child victims, through counseling, medical intervention, psycho-social intervention and legal intervention. Moreover, the Centre aims to improve convictions on cases and ensure the psycho-social healing of children thereafter, as well as improve the relations between communities and officials and improve the community’s faith in the criminal justice system. The Centre will also have a permanently employed forensic nurse and social worker, and together with agreed upon working protocols with the NPA, SAPS, Department of Social Development and others NGOs/NPOs, will be able to conduct risk assessment to ensure survivors safety, provide counseling and provide a place where victims can meet with relevant officials when necessary.
Vanessa lynch, founder of the DNA Project, says that she has chosen Angels Care to benefit from the proceeds of the funds raised by BTW as it not only plans to help equip it with much needed equipment for the examination room but it will also run a track and trace programme, which will monitor the progress of each case received from date of collection of the DNA evidence to its presentation in court. The purpose of this project is to ensure that evidence collected results in convictions, and if not, to identify problem areas as to why cases do not make it to court. Hand-in-hand with this project is a research project which is looking into more effective DNA evidence collection methods in relation to children, which historically have a very low yield rate. These collaborative efforts, coordinated by The DNA Project, seek to fully utilise the potential of DNA evidence to identify perpetrators thus preventing them from attacking again.
We are extremely proud that Blow the Whistle has made such a meaningful and tangible contribution in the fight against rape in South Africa. Thank you to everyone who has supported the campaign!