Press Release

Lawyers against Abuse condemns rampant acts of gender-based violence and demands government to strengthen the justice system response to these crimes.

In response to recent reports of widespread rape, murder and abuse of women and children across South Africa, non-profit organisation Lawyers against Abuse (LvA) strongly condemns these rampant acts of gender-based violence (GBV) and demands that the South African government take immediate action to strengthen the justice system response to these crimes.

While recent events have once again “shocked” the country, there is nothing new about South Africa’s high prevalence rates of GBV. According to the World Health Organisation, South Africa’s female interpersonal violence death rate was 4.8x the global average in 2016. According to most recent SAPS data from 2017/18, a woman is murdered every three hours in South Africa, not accounting for motive. While accurate statistics on the prevalence of sexual violence are difficult to ascertain due to a high degree of under-reporting, the problem is substantial.

LvA believes that one of the main reasons for the continued violence is the failure of the justice system in GBV cases. These failures create an environment where perpetrators of violence are not held accountable for their actions. Despite strong laws, victims rarely see justice due to inadequate resources and severe deficiencies in implementation by local state actors. For example, research shows that a perpetrator is arrested in only 58% of reported rape cases, only 18.5% of these cases ever go to trial and only 8.6% of these cases end in a conviction. GBV victims are often further victimised when seeking justice by discriminatory police attitudes, victim blaming and the traumatic and adversarial courtroom environment.

Without comprehensive support services, GBV victims are expected to navigate this complex and often hostile legal process alone. Furthermore, the complexities of the trauma associated with violence and the negative impact on the psychological wellbeing of victims create further obstacles for victims in accessing justice. In most cases, victims have no one to turn to for help when the system fails them

LvA fills this gap using an integrated approach that provides GBV victims with holistic legal and psychosocial support services, while working to strengthen the justice system’s response to GBV and empower communities around their legal rights. This two-pronged approach that provides victim support, while also addressing broader systemic issues, is critical to ensuring that victims have meaningful access to justice, that the justice system works effectively and perpetrators are held accountable.

To raise critical funds to continue this work, LvA will be holding a fundraising Art Auction & Gala Dinner on 26 September 2019 at the Killarney Country Club. Visit their website (www.lva.org.za) for more information.

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