16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women & Children – 2022: Thuthuzela Care Centre operations: How does the TCC work?

16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women & Children – 2022: Thuthuzela Care Centre operations: How does the TCC work?

The Thuthuzela Care Centre (TCC)

In South Africa, sexual violence and gender-based violence (GBV) are serious and pervasive. GBV is widespread and strongly rooted in South Africa’s cultures and traditions.

While it mostly affects women and girls, GBV does not discriminate. Any person can be a victim or a perpetrator of GBV, regardless of their ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender. GBV can be committed by close friends, acquaintances, strangers and intimate partners. It can also be physical, sexual, emotional, financial, and the perpetrator is often known by the victim. GBV is a scourge which must be eradicated.

An integrated approach to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) care management is one of respect, comfort, restoring dignity and ensuring justice for the girls, boys, women and men who are victims of this violence.

As a reaction to the urgent need for an integrated strategy for prevention, response, and support for rape victims/survivors, the National Prosecuting Authority’s Sexual Offences and Community Affairs Unit (SOCA), in conjunction with several agencies and funders, is leading the Thuthuzela initiative. The SOCA Unit has been working since it was founded to create best practices and policies that aim to end victimisation of women and children while enhancing prosecution, notably in the areas of sexual offenses, maintenance, child justice, and domestic violence.

Thuthuzela Care Centres (TCCs) are located within a public hospital based in communities where the incidence of rape is particularly high. The TCC is linked to a magistrate’s court (ideally a dedicated sexual offence court). At the centre the victim/survivor will see the doctor, counsellor, social worker and if need be, the psychologist. This court is capacitated with prosecutors skilled in SGBV matters, the judiciary, court interpreters, social workers, non-government organisations (NGOs), as well as court preparation officers. The court is also located near to the TCC. In order to lessen secondary victimisation and prepare a case that may be successfully prosecuted, as part of South Africa’s anti-rape policy, TCCs have been set up as one-stop facilities. Currently there are 61 TCCs in South Africa and more are still to be established.

Thuthuzela Care Centre operations: How does the TCC work?

Step 1: You can report a rape case directly to a TCC (based at community clinics or hospitals) or to a police station
Step 2: TCC staff will assist to get you immediate medico-legal attention at the Centre
Step 3: TCC staff will arrange counselling and therapeutic services at the Centre
Step 4: TCC staff will assist you to open a police case (if you want to do so immediately or even at a later stage)
Step 5: TCC staff will arrange for on-going counselling and court preparation (if the case goes to trial)

Edendale TCC Tel/ Fax : 033 395 4325
Harry Gwala Regional Hospital,
Moses Mabhida Rd, Plessislaer,
Edendale, Pietermaritzburg

Site Coordinator: Yolokazi Mjoli Tel: 033 395 4352

16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women & Children – 2022

16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women & Children – 2022

It is that time of the year again in South Africa, where the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children Campaign takes up the media space, allowing, most would say, the very necessary focus on sexual and gender-based violence against women and children in South Africa.

Our government is trying to send all the right signals as it looks for ways to bring to life (some would say bring back from the dead) the Emergency Response Action Plan on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide, which was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa in September 2019.

Writing in September 2022 in the Mail & Guardian, Sibongile Ndashe, who is the co-chair of the Presidential Summit on GBV and Femicide, seemed despondent. The first summit was in November 2018 and the second took place recently in early November; Ndashe said there was no demand for this summit and that there was, in effect, summit fatigue.

Her comments are pretty scathing: there has been inadequate commitment and accountability; a “glowing report” on actions achieved “is not even a remote possibility”; the government, she says, has failed to “co-ordinate, account for and lead the response”; and “this costly exercise” has been, in effect, a public relations disaster.

No doubt there will be much spin about the State’s actions and promises, and earnest reflection on barriers and challenges. And there will be plenty of opinion-making on how we, as a country, can do better.

This is correct, but in this reflection we wish to articulate a more complex, and perhaps even controversial, view, alongside the critique of State inertia. And that is, we have failed as a country to get to grips with broader violence, and particularly male on male violence, which is a crucial part of our social fabric.

We are not speaking only here of men and boys as victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and child sexual abuse. This is, of course, a critically important part of the violence puzzle in South Africa. Loise du Toit’s chapter in the forthcoming book Intimacy and Injury speaks eloquently on the topic. Activists must rethink their neglect of male victims, she said, and we should “resist creating victim hierarchies”.

There are three reasons why feminist activists should take up the cause of male victims of sexual violence, Du Toit says: if we are serious about gender justice, ignoring male victims is discrimination; what unites sexual violence against men and women [and indeed all genders] is the violence of patriarchy; and recognising male victims is an opportunity for important solidarities, “exposing the delusion that it [sexual violence] is a woman’s problem”.

In fact, she argues, including male victims of sexual violence in our work “threatens patriarchy much more than it threatens feminist aims”.

So, our final argument, building on this, is that we need also to think about the impact of male-male violence which is not sexual.

Violence expert David Bruce (and gender activist Lisa Vetten has also made this point), has laid bare some stark statistics on this. Bruce clarifies that a focus on violence against women and children is objectively necessary. Women and teenage girls are the overwhelming majority of victims of sexual violence; 90% of rape victims over the age of 10 are female; in violence experienced by women the perpetrators are often current or former intimate partners; and in killings of women, roughly 50% are carried out by intimate partners.

But there is a silence about the victimisation of men, he says.

Men constitute a large proportion of victims of homicide and other types of violence where weapons are used to inflict serious injury. Men and male children account for 85% of victims of murder, 80% of victims of attempted murder, and more than 70% of victims of assault with grievous bodily harm.

Men are a large majority of victims of serious assaults and, unlike women, much of the violence they experience is from people outside the family and their closest relationships.

Building on this data he asks some pertinent questions:

  • Does a single-minded focus on violence against women suggest that violence against men is more acceptable?
  • Can violence against women be addressed without addressing violence against [and between] men?

Surely it makes sense that toxic and problematic forms of masculinity, underpinned by the system of patriarchy, are the golden thread that links violence against women to violence against men?

When men hurt each other it is often because their masculinity feels threatened, when they feel they need to prove something “as a man”, when they need to assert a particular orientation to the world that they are strong, can stand their ground. It is often a matter of pride for people who have learnt violence as a form of communication.

As men “become habituated to violence through violence from other men”, they will also hurt women, girls and anyone who challenges the cis-het norm. We are marinated in violence in South Africa; we cannot look away from violence between men and seriously argue that it does not bleed into the rest of our lives.

The violence matrix is complicated, has historical roots, and it’s a daunting task to tackle it. But piecemeal approaches cannot work. It’s legitimate to put our energies where we feel politically, morally and ethically drawn, but is it ethical to turn to a blind eye to male-male violence, which in fact makes up most of the violence in our country?

 

 

 

 

 

 

PsySSA Commemorates World Trauma Day 2022

PsySSA Commemorates World Trauma Day 2022

“Trauma constantly confronts us with fragility and with man’s inhumanity to man, but also with our extraordinary resilience” (van der Kolk, 2014).

World Trauma Day, observed on 17 October, emphasises the need to prevent deaths and disabilities caused by accidents or trauma. It was initiated in New Delhi in 2011 to highlight the number of deaths caused by motor vehicle accidents (Sahu, 2022). The purpose of World Trauma Day lies in generating awareness on various precautionary measures and averting deaths and disabilities caused by traumatic incidents. As per a study conducted by the World Health Organization (2021), nearly half of the trauma-related deaths occurring in developing countries could have been prevented with psychoeducation programmes and effective intervention, such as:

  • immediate pre-hospital care
  • adequate knowledge of handling emergency situations (training of personnel)
  • adequate supply of pre-hospital care equipment and facilities (enough ambulances and other medical supplies)

On commemoration of this day, we acknowledge that trauma is a major cause of preventable death and disability across the world. And whilst in the medical world, trauma is considered an event causing physical injury, we also see it pertinent to acknowledge that trauma extends beyond the notion of physical trauma to also include psychological and emotional trauma exposure.

Certainly, South Africa is one of the few countries globally that has endured protracted political violence as well as high rates of criminal violence, domestic abuse, and accidental injury. This translates into South Africans being widely and commonly confronted with primary and secondary accounts of traumatic stressors, both in their everyday lives and in the mass media. For many South Africans, the stress of living in conditions of continuous traumatisation is compounded by the chronic anxiety wrought by severe economic deprivation. The civil unrest in KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the flooding in KwaZulu Natal (amongst other events) in the past year further illuminated this social inequality.

Whilst we are a traumatised nation, we are also a resilient one, with ubuntu standing as one of our nation’s strongest symbols.

My humanity is preserved though you, and yours through us.

In this sense, amidst precarious times, we encourage mutual support among community members, relatives, friends, colleagues and even strangers, Support will go a long way to bring comfort and relief to distressed individuals. Knowing that someone cares and is willing to listen to one’s experiences is a crucial feat in healing. We also call upon government to embark on meaningful efforts to address the levels of traumatisation in our country, to prioritise the safety of women and children, and to increase safety in public places – understanding social inequality and poverty as key drivers (amongst others). Further, we call on communities to normalise conversations about trauma and its effects.

As we commemorate World Trauma Day, we appeal to individuals to seek assistance if they are experiencing trauma-related symptoms for which they cannot cope. including repetitive and distressing nightmares, flashbacks and/or memories and avoidance of trauma-related thoughts. In addition, one may experience depressive symptoms including negative thoughts and assumptions about oneself or the world, guilt and blame; decreased interest in activities; feeling isolated and difficulty experiencing positive moods. Further, changes in arousal or reactivity including irritability or aggression; risky or destructive behaviour; hypervigilance; heightened startle reaction; difficulty concentrating and difficulty sleeping, may ensue.

Although it is normal to experience symptoms post trauma, if symptoms persist, or if traumatic exposure is ongoing and severely impacting your capacity to function in various domains, you may benefit from seeking professional support.

Symptoms could include repetitive and distressing nightmares, flashbacks and/or memories; avoidance of trauma-related thoughts, feelings and/or external reminders, depressive symptoms (negative thoughts and assumptions about oneself or the world; blame of self or others for causing the trauma; decreased interest in activities; feeling isolated; difficulty experiencing positive affect) as well as alterations in arousal or reactivity (irritability or aggression; risky or destructive behaviour; hypervigilance; heightened startle reaction; difficulty concentrating; difficulty sleeping). Although it is normal to experience symptoms post trauma, if symptoms persist, or if traumatic exposure is ongoing and severely impacting your capacity to function in various domains, you may benefit from seeking professional support.

Mental Health Emergency Contacts:

  • The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG): 011 234 4837
  • Suicide Crisis Lifeline: 080 0567 567
  • Trauma Helpline: 080 020 5026

References

Sahu, V. (2022). World Trauma Day 2022: History, significance and theme. Retrieved 11 October 2022 from https://www.merazone.com/2022/10/world-trauma-day-2022-history.html

van der Kolk, B. A. (2014). The body keeps the score: Brain, mind, and body in the healing of trauma. Viking.

World Health Organisation. (2021). Injuries and violence. Retrieved 11 October 2022 from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/injuries-and-violence

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PsySSA Commemorates World Mental Health Day 2022

PsySSA Commemorates World Mental Health Day 2022

Suntosh R. Pillay

The growth of the KwaZulu-Natal Mental Health Advocacy Walk is best captured by the infamous African saying, “If you want to go fast, go alone; but you if want to go far, go together”.

Now in our seventh year, when we began this event in 2016 we had modest expectations for a cause that isn’t perceived as ‘sexy’ or ‘newsworthy enough’ for the media. However, in three short years, the mainstream media did start paying increasing attention to us, and in 2019 we were on the evening news on SABC TV. Despite a two-year Covid-induced hiatus (where we experimented with virtual walks but had lukewarm results) we returned in full force on Sunday, for our first post-pandemic, in-person walk. Over 700 people registered!

The event is hosted by the KZN Mental Health Advocacy Group, an informal civil society network that my colleague Professor Suvira Ramlall and I started a few years ago. We also use the platform to host the annual Durban Mental Health Symposium, and since 2018 we evolved into the first satellite branch of the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) outside of Johannesburg.

The walk is our flagship affair – but it’s more than a mere walk. It builds social capital in the province, makes it easier for people to ask for help when they are in distress or suicidal, and promotes healthy living, through Zumba, yoga, aerobics, dance, and meditation lessons. Ultimately, this walk is about allyship, solidarity and visibility – the beating heart of all activism.

As my friend and co-conspirator Prof Ramlall said at the walk: “What’s really inspiring is that we’re creating momentum, advocacy and activism from the bottom up, so that this event is community-driven. As a psychiatrist with thirty years of experience in public health, she knows mental health activism from every vantage point. I agree – lasting change, that goes further, rather than simply faster, must come from community collaborations. For this reason, we have no major corporate sponsor taking the lead in organizing this event. Quite frankly, we start our planning every year with zero budget. But somehow, always, people reach out, offer to buy, to sponsor, to donate, to volunteer, to carry, to drive, to do something. It is this spirit of togetherness, of collective ownership, that has kept this event strong, consistent, energetic, and fun. It’s hard work, but it’s worth it.

Blanche Moila, my former colleague, a retired nurse, is an 18-time Comrades runner. She joined the walk because despite her long career in psychiatry she said she still sees stigma against mental illness even though “it can effect anyone, whether you’re a professional, a labourer, whether you’re rich or you’re poor.”

I spotted Dr Sandile Kubheka at the walk, once the youngest doctor to qualify from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He said the walk was a reminder that “taking care of ourselves is crucially important… we have to always make sure our mental health is in a good place.” As healthcare workers emerging from devastation of the Covid-19 pandemic, we must heed the good doctor’s prescription! Evidence shows that a simple walk has tangible psychological and emotional benefits.

Finally, as we commemorate October 10, World Mental Health Day, there will be many ‘big’ important-sounding conversations, such as Lancet commission launches, lofty sounding webinars, and rhetoric-infused editorials. #WMHD2022 often pivots the ‘global’ – but let’s do more to focus on the local. We must step up and be able to change our local conditions, first and foremost.

Suntosh R. Pillay is a clinical psychologist in Durban.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PsySSA Commemorates World Patient Safety Day 2022

PsySSA Commemorates World Patient Safety Day 2022

World Patient Safety Day 2022: Medication Safety: Medication Without Harm

The theme for this year’s World Health Organization World Patient Safety Day, to be commemorated on 17 September 2022, is Medication Safety: Medication Without Harm.

World Patient Safety Day calls for the prioritization of best practices to promote patient safety and to avoid errors that result in patients experiencing harm in healthcare settings. It has been reported that annually, in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), as many as 134 million adverse events, following unsafe patient practices, occur in hospital settings, resulting in 2.6 million deaths (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering & Medicine, 2018).

Dangerous medication practices result in avoidable harm in health care settings across the globe. Medication errors can result from a range of factors, amongst others, human error and resource shortages. When medications are not prescribed, dispensed, administered or monitored correctly, patient harm can result. Moreover, when not correctly stored, medications can become less effective, toxic or even a means to suicidal behaviour.

These adverse events can result in substantial psychological distress, physical harm and economic burden. The Medication Safety: Medication Without Harm campaign raises awareness of high-risk situations where medication-related harm can occur – such as polypharmacy and in transitions in patient care. It encourages individuals taking medication to check that they are taking the correct medication in the correct manner, and to ask their health care professional if they have any medication related questions. Health care workers are encouraged to talk to patients about the medication they prescribe or dispense, and to encourage patients to ask questions should these arise.

The Psychological Society of South Africa joins healthcare workers and civil society across the globe in commemorating World Patient Safety Day 2022: Medication Without Harm. PsySSA encourages service users and healthcare practitioners to play an active and deliberate role in preventing medication-related harm.

Link: https://www.who.int/multi-media/details/medication-without-harm—world-patient-safety-day-2022#

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PsySSA Commemorates World Suicide Prevention Day 2022 – Hope Campaign 2022

PsySSA Commemorates World Suicide Prevention Day 2022 – Hope Campaign 2022

HOPE CAMPAIGN 2022:

The 10th of September 2022 has been declared World Suicide Prevention Day, by the International Association for Suicide Prevention in conjunction with the World Health Organization. On this day, attention is focused on reducing stigma and raising awareness of suicide prevention among organisations and within the public sphere to inspire creating hope through action.

PsySSA is joining in this international initiative through releasing our Hope Campaign. The Hope Campaign comprises of a series of videos which will be released throughout the day on our social media channels. We encourage our community of PsySSA members to help spread these releases through sharing them on your own social media pages.

A special thank you to all the contributors of the project:

Nicky Newman Photography (https://www.nickynewmanphotography.com), Alice den Hollander Photography (insta:alice_den_hollander), Nonhlanhla Maubane, Gavaza Shingange, and the SASCP and the PiPS divisions

PsySSA will being posting media throughout the day.

Watch our social media to see this campaign, lead by Executive Member, Daniel den Hollander, develop!

#Hope #WorldSuicidePreventionDay #CreatingHope #ThroughAction