A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.
TASK GROUP ON THE SEXUAL ABUSE OF CHILDREN
13 March 2002
SEXUAL ABUSE OF CHILDREN: PUBLIC HEARINGS
Chairperson: Mr E Saloojee
Documents handed out:
Submission by the National House of Traditional Healers (NHTL)
Joint Submission by the Alliance for Children's Entitlement to Social Security (ACESS) and the Children's Rights Centre
Presentation by Soul City
Consensus Statement Child Abuse
Submission by Ms R Kadalie
Submission by CIET Africa
Submission by Far North Regional Network on Violence
Submission by the Psychological Society of South Africa
Submission by Child Rights Institute
Submission by Child Protection Programme
Submission by Medical Research Council
Submission by Molo Songololo
Child Welfare Society
The Task Group heard representations from the following groups; the Psychological Society of South Africa, the Child Rights Institute, the Far North Regional Network on Violence and Molo Songololo. There were also submissions by the Pullative Medicine Institute, CIET Africa, the National House of Traditional Leaders (NHTL), the Alliance for Children's Entitlement to Social Security (ACESS) and Soul City, a multi media health project addressing health and development issues through the popular media. They presented findings and recommendations on infant and child rape and the abuse of children.
The Task Group also heard the submissions of the Child Protection Programme, Child Welfare Society and the Medical Research Council.
Ms Vanessa Anthony represented Molo Songololo in place of Mr Patric Solomons. The presentation contained the report findings of a research project embarked on in 2000 dealing with the trafficking of children. The report outlines what constitutes trafficking of children, where it occurs in SA and the services for exploited children. It also dealt with the relevant South African legislation, international agreements,
Ms Anthony said that she her submission to the Task Group was a means of lobbying government to put legislation in place to combat child trafficking. South Africa is a signatory to many Conventions, however, no legislation currently exists to deal with the offenders of this crime.
The main concerns surrounding the findings of the research had to be stressed. These were:
-Lack of anti-trafficking legislation
-Lack of policy and bilateral agreements
-Poverty and unemployment
-Lack of services for children
-Increase in demand for sex with children
-Increase in the numbers of prostituted children
-Impact of HIV and Aids
-Alleged corruption of officials in Government, police, Immigration authorities.
-Lack of public awareness.
Molo Songololo recommended the development of anti-trafficking legislation; extra-territorial legislation and policy to prevent, intervention and rescue of victims; the prosecution and conviction of all involved or directly benefiting from the trafficking industry; training and awareness for organisations and administrators of justice working with children and their protection; and compliance with international agreements and agenda's for action.
Ms Dudley (ACDP) asked whether Molo Songololo had a specific proposal in terms of the required legislation.
Ms Anthony said that they had not gone this far.
Mrs Dudley asked whether there were any leads into the public officials involved in trafficking.
Ms Anthony explained as far as the alleged corruption was concerned, they had interviewed children that had stated that police officials were involved.
Mrs Dudley asked what part was played by pornography.
Ms Anthony responded that pornography was used on both the adult and child levels.
Ms Anthony stressed that Molo Songololo was simply reporting the findings made, and not stating allegations. Trafficking was a very dangerous area to investigate, and the organisation did not want to become involved on a personal level.
Mr Masutha (ANC) asked whether Molo Songololo had studied the current South African Law Commission Report, and whether they had made specific proposals to the Commission.
Ms Anthony replied that the organisation had submitted its recommendations to the SALC, and was happy to note that the Commission had taken note of some of the proposals.
Mr Masutha asked if there were any underlying social causes.
Ms Anthony said that it was very clear that high unemployment and poverty were problem areas. However, she refused to accept that these were the only contributing factors. She stated that other issues were involved, and they were not going to make excuses for the offenders.
Ms Masuka asked how Molo appraised the Inter-Country Child Abduction treaty to which South Africa was signatory.
She explained that the trafficking aspect of the Convention has not really been used in South Africa. A matter relating to trafficking has never been to court. In a current case, clearly involving trafficking, the offender was charged only with rape and indecent assault. This showed that South Africa was not doing anything to address the issue.
A Member asked her to comment on the current success rate of the organisation in terms of the rehabilitation of the 'youngsters'.
Ms Anthony emphasised that some children have really been traumatised, and she gave the example of girls that were raped ten times in one day. This made healing an important commitment for the organisation, and they have recently begun a healing programme. However, the scars carried by many of the children are so great that little improvement had yet been made.
A Member asked whether there was a network in South Africa through which the monitoring of offenders was possible.
Mr Anthony stated that there was no monitoring of syndicates in South Africa, hence the lobbying by Molo Songololo.
Mr Bloem (ANC) asked for the information regarding the traffickers. Were the police aware of the internal offenders?
Ms Anthony responded that they had been lobbying the Department of Safety and Security in an attempt to increase awareness. They had also met with the Western Cape Commissioner of Police and were currently embarking on a programme to increase awareness.
Mr Cupido wanted to know why children ran away from home.
Ms Anthony stated that this question required investigation into all institutions. Right across Cape Town children were running away from home and she could therefore not be specific.
Ms Chalmers (ANC) asked how organised the syndicate in South Africa was, and why the syndicate network was growing.
Ms Anthony explained that there was a growing demand for child sex, and South Africa was very organised on the syndicate level. She noted that although she was not putting herself her on the line, there had been allegations and these would have to be recognised.
Children's Rights Institute (UCT)
Professor Andy Dawes stated that his presentation would have two foci. Firstly, the underlying causes as it pertains to South Africa. This would involve two controversial issues, namely the attitude of men, and the poverty situation in South Africa. He noted that like Ms Anthony, he was not using poverty as an excuse. Secondly, he would make suggestions regarding intervention. He would focus on children in poverty, although he was fully aware that they were not the only affected children.
Professor Dawes explained that poverty led to stress and this put children in needy situations. The scale of the problem was important: although everybody was aware that it was horrendous, it is important to look at it. He commented on the legacy of apartheid and said that race correlated with poverty. He referred to Table 1 in his presentation, which showed a reasonably flat projectory with regards to crime. There was a gross underestimate of the reported cases because many go unreported.
Professor Dawes said that the key issue to take into account with respect to policy and intervention was the Docket Account because this would provide a fuller analysis. He said that significant proportions of offenders were extra-familial, but that the children knew a significant number of them. In addition, the offender age was significantly between the late teens and early 20s. Of the offenders, 38% of them were unemployed, and 20% were school children. Sexual abuse usually occurred over the weekend, and there is a high correlation with alcohol abuse. The vulnerable times for children were when they were at home, and in the weekends. This therefore called for increased protection on a neighbourhood level.
Professor Dawes referred to Point 3, the role of poverty environments in sexual abuse. He explained that this was in part because poorer communities had a harder time hiding the abuse, but also to amplify the effect of poverty. He noted two common reactions to poverty:
-Outbursts of anger at children. However, they would have to be sympathetic to this.
-Neglect of children. Children play on the streets because of the absence of recreational facilities. In addition, they move out of home because the homes are not very pleasant, thereby making it difficult to monitor their behaviour.
The structural features of poverty that led to increased abuse:
-Non-kin males who become part of the family
-Social isolation is a major problem. In this regard he referred to living in areas without persons to whom one had close links.
-There is a real absence of recreational facilities, thereby leaving the youth and the unemployed without anything to do.
-Unsafe, "toxic" neighbourhoods.
He added that there were also personal factors to consider.
Professor Dawes moved on to the male attitudes. This was a fundamental underlying crisis that had to be faced, although it was not actually tabled. The underlying ideology that justified male dominance over women was a risk. If the right to aggression is added, this serves to increase abuse. It is important to note the ideology that sexualises young girls through a range of practices, such as the media. It would be necessary to determine the messages that portray women, and he gave the example of a fashion show made up of nine year old models.
Professor Dawes referred to Campbell's report and said that it clearly showed that where men had been stripped of their male power, there would be a conversion to abuse of women. This is why, he believed, that stripping men of their capacity as head of the family led them to them becoming hostile towards the world. Regardless of socio-economic status, communities that accepted and reinforced male superiority over women, accepted men's rights to sexual dominance over women, socialised men into aggressive sexuality, valued younger and less powerful females as sexual objects, and had poor child protection structures in families and local communities, placed children in particular risk. The spirit of Ubuntu is necessary.
Professor Dawes stated that he would give an argument for primary prevention and then make some specific recommendations. His approach called for strengthening of social cohesion at a neighbourhood level. He also recommended an increase in a caring orientation, mainstreaming the issue of child sexual abuse. Child protection services need to be accessible at precinct level. Community based initiatives are needed and child safety must be improved. The recommendation contained in Point 5 concerning the support of vulnerable families would be critical.
Professor Dawes ended by dealing with the development of programmes aimed at reorienting attitudes and practices. This included the sexualisation of children, masculinity and sexual violence, and education and sexual violence.
In conclusion, he stated that child sexual abuse was not a new problem. It therefore called for sustained efforts and attention beyond the public hearing that had been held. He thanked the committee.
Mr Dithebe (ANC) asked Professor Dawes to suggest possible user facilities with regards to his recommendation for improvement in out of school time. Making a recommendation that could not be financially sustained would be as good as not making a recommendation at all.
Professor Dawes said that a possibility would be to accompany such initiatives with support for families. Another option would be to apply to the authorities of a provincial level for the release from school fees, and to make similar proposals with the Department of Social Development.
Ms Thakane suggested that the empowerment of women heightened the aggression of men. How could these issues be balanced?
Professor Dawes responded that a long-term suggestion would be to start in schools. This would be aimed at building a new generation of gender sensitive men. Using the media was a very important source of modelling. In financially compromised communities, there would be a clear role for community based projects, such as the 1970s Male Empowerment Groups.
A Member asked for specific recommendations with regards to the entertainment industry. He gave the example of quotas.
Professor Dawes stated that a good point had been made, and he called it some sort of 'sin tax'. Careful scrutiny would also be necessary because the more general problem surrounds what is accepted in every day life. He did not think that heavy-handed legislation would necessarily make a difference at the end of the day.
A Member asked for comment on the impact of the legal status of pornography in South Africa. She referred to the fact that pornography had led to an increase in sexual abuse in all the countries where it had been legalised.
Professor Dawes said that pornography clearly had a role to play in the problem, thus some form of control would be necessary.
Secondly, did the right to have an abortion had an effect on the sexual abuse mentality, i.e. the attitude to children's values?
Professor Dawes responded that he would give an opinion because he had researched neither of the issues. By looking at the country's forerunners in legalising abortion, one could not see a simple correlation because such laws were usually accompanied with many children's rights.
A Member singled out alcohol abuse as featuring a lot in many of our societal ills. WHat could be done?
Professor Dawes responded that the major problem with alcohol was its ready availability in high-risk areas. Although he did not know the regulations in those areas, one clearly had to tighten them. His own view was that alcohol should not be sold in neighbourhood areas.
Ms Rhoda Kadalie
Ms Kadalie represented no organisation. She would be dealing with the areas that had to be combated in order to combat the crimes of sexual abuse.
Ms Kadalie stated that CIET Africa endorsed the view that the problem was alarming. In addition, there was a one out of ten conviction rate in rape cases; 58% of the cases did not go to court, and 80% of them were withdrawn. There was a great need for action and this has to be a main concern for Parliament. It necessary to understand the problem and to implement combative methods. There are four types of child abuse, namely:
They were often inter-related, and this called for a multi-pronged approach.
Looking at the causes of abuse, she said that many adults did not welcome the abolition of corporal punishment. This showed that we are living in a society characterised by extreme forms of violence, and that this would impact on the unequal power relationships between men and women. She went on to say that cultural factors had a large role. Many persons blamed sexual abuse on factors such a stress and poverty. While child abuse occurs everywhere, high levels of poverty in township areas made it easier for the abuse to occur. Contrary to the popular image, abusers often appeared caring towards the children and could be family members such as fathers or grandfathers. She cautioned the Committee not to be fooled with regards to the identity of the perpetrator. There were many reasons why men would become abusers, including factors such as being abused themselves, being convinced it is in the child's own good, and myths that HIV is cured through having sex with a virgin. Nevertheless, abuse would always be wrong because it could never be the child's fault and it would lead to damaging long-term effects.
Ms Kadalie explained that abusers would go to great lengths to find favour with the children, and to keep the secret. This would involve threats of punishment or of embarrassment, for example. It is the duty of the parent to take care of the child. Nevertheless, families do not always serve the best interests of the child. Thus it would be necessary for the state to form the balance. The Constitution recognises that the primary responsibility of the child rests with the family. This created a tension between recognising the child as an independent being and recognising the child as a member of the family. The State is therefore obliged to take safeguarding measures.
Ms Kadalie referred to Section 28 of the Constitution and to Article 38 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in terms of which the State was obliged to take preventative measures to protect the child. This made it clear that the onus rested on the State to take active measures to combat child abuse. What measures could be taken? Education about child sexual abuse begins in the home, and with the family. This calls for a campaign to encourage parents to teach their children as soon as they are ready to learn.
The State has an obligation to design policy and relevant and appropriate legislation. She made a number of proposals; the establishment of an inter-Departmental body. Extra and adequate research about the problem would be necessary. It would be important to target it in all the indigenous languages. A system of care for the victims would have to be established. In addition, the State would have to deal with the police and the judicial authority.
Mrs Kadalie noted that she had a long list of campaigns to endorse in an attempt to prevent child abuse. Her last request was that Parliament calls for a five year programme.
Ms Tsheole (ANC) asked for the immediate and long-term proposals.
Ms Kadalie responded that it was for that very reason that she spoke at length about prevention campaigns. One step would be to insist upon voluntary services of child psychologists, thereby also managing to deal with surplus unemployment. In addition, they had the option of making sexual abuse harassment essential for the school programme. She was prepared to commit herself in that regard at absolutely no cost.
Mr Saloojee (ANC) said that should Members still have unanswered questions, it would be possible to send questions to Ms Kadalie.
Far North Regional Network on Violence
Ms Netshandana explained that she was part of the voluntary firm of Regional Network Against Violence of Women in the Limpopo area. She was going to present the truth of what was happening at the grass roots level, especially in the rural areas because the focus seemed to be only on urban areas.
Ms Netshandana stated that when women suffered, children would also suffer. They are really suffering in the rural areas, and help was needed. She referred to statistics of the number of rape cases from five police stations, taken between June 2001 and March 2002.
She noted that the figure for March was up to 7 March 2002.
Ms Netshandana explained that a trauma centre was set up in September 2001. Over the past six months, they had attended to twenty cases per month. She asked the Committee to bear in mind the fact that there was no transportation in rural areas. In the Far North, there was not a single shelter and the result thereof was that abused children would have to return to the home of abuse.
Ms Netshandana moved on to the problems of poverty and referred to a case where a two year old girl was raped by her own father. The child died, the father was arrested and the mother was chased away from her home. The aunt did not have any money to bury the child: although the child died in November 2001, she was only buried in December 2001. Rural women were poverty stricken and usually worked in the farms. This meant that they would arrive home at around 8pm. Some children would be raped en route to get water, whilst others would be raped on the way home from school. The government had a duty to help the communities. Communities could intervene before the child was raped, and the State's duty would be to ensure that rape cases receive immediate attention. In addition, the rural areas were lacking facilities. For example, there were five private cars.
Ms Netshandana appealed to the Task Group to see to it that the Child Protection Units would be well staffed and resourced. She called for the monitoring of all cases as an indication of support. She noted that the abuser would usually be in a more powerful position, and that this would be in contrast to the victims who usually had to go to court without any support. In addition, court cases would not be held in camera. She mentioned the fact that in a recent case, a four-year old child had to testify before everyone, and the magistrate insisted on her saying the exact days when she was raped. This made it necessary to provide intermediary support.
Ms Netshandana made it clear that there were people ready to volunteer in the rural areas. However, the problem was the lack of financial support. Therefore, strengthening their network would assist them in working directly with the communities. Teachers in these areas had to be trained to be able to detect abuse, and to be aware of what to do in such situations. In rural areas, people were not aware of the seriousness of rape. Nurses would not classify rape as a 'serious crime'. It is therefore necessary to educate the rural community.
Ms Netshandana referred to the strong belief that HIV can be cured through sexual intercourse with a virgin, and stated that it was spread by traditional healers. This called for the training of traditional healers. However, such initiatives required assistance, and the aid of Parliament would be necessary in this regard. She also appealed to Parliament to monitor its own employees.
Mr Bloem (ANC) was angry that the Departments were not present at the meeting. He could not see the purpose of bringing people from the Far North without the presence of the Department. He stated that they had no right to waste people's time.
Mr Saloojee (ANC) mentioned that he did ask the Ministers to come. Nevertheless, he noted the comment made by Mr Bloem.
Mr Baloyi (ANC) asked what the strength as a grouping was.
Ms Netshandana responded that she would answer the question at a later stage.
Mr Masutha (ANC) asked whether she was aware of budgeting at the provincial level. Have the provinces been made aware of these needs?
Ms Netshandana replied that they had made several attempts but have yet to receive responses.
Ms Masutha (ANC) asked which systems support social services in the rural areas.
Ms Netshandana stated that there were many social workers ready to assist them. However, the only limitation was the lack of support.
Psychological Society of South Africa
Dr Saths Cooper, the Chairperson of the Psychological Society of South Africa and Ms Ann Watts, a co-investigator, briefed the Task Group.
Dr said that the entire world had been shocked by the state of rapes of children less than one years of age between November 2001 and December 2001. As a result, the society decided to conduct a baseline study into the sexual and physical assault on children less than one years of age, and to assess the offenders. This led them to establish a trend likely to emerge in our new democracy.
Dr Cooper explained that they used the SAPS database of cases between 1 January 2000 and 31 December 2001. In this regard, the National Prosecuting Authority and the Department of Health supported the Society. There were approximately 700 reported cases in 1989. In 1999, this increased to 798. In 2000, there were approximately 5000 cases. Approximately 2000of them went to court, and about 600 of them led to not guilty verdicts. This pilot study was conducted with over 108 cases. The cut-off age for the study was eleven years because this was also the cut-off age for the SAPS data collection. From this age, pubescence is implicated because it has its own issues that may compound on sexual behaviour, thus it was only fitting to restrict the study to the pre-pubescent age group.
Dr Cooper said that it was the six to nine year age group that was mostly affected. The second most affected group was those between three and five years of age. The significance of this was that the older age group was at a greater risk. He highlighted the Linyenye childcare case where the child was systematically brutalised by her parents. Prior to democratisation in South Africa, statistics were not readily available. Those that were available were highly skewed.
The base line study resulted in the following preliminary findings:
-Men between 25 and 35 years of age were the dominant offenders.
-The remaining perpetrators were between 35 and 50 years. He noted that all the perpetrators had been socialised in terms of their values prior to democratisation. Fatal suicide statistics implicated the 25 to 35 years age group four times more than women. It would therefore be necessary to deal with that age group, being the economically viable population of society. It would be necessary to consider the move to democracy and the fact that it was possible that the majority was being ignored in terms of the issues confronted by the economically viable population. Infant rape would have to be considered as a social ill, given some of the past social abnormalities.
Dr Cooper stated that it would be necessary to deal comprehensively with this issue. He explained that behavioural scientists looked at abnormalities in the hope of extrapolating into regular behaviour. Therefore, one would have to acknowledge that one was dealing with a psychosocial economic problem. In addition, it would be necessary to protect the children, who are the future of South Africa, by impacting on the educational system, and by looking at comprehensive social intervention and socio-economic affirmation.
In terms of rape, the study showed that most perpetrators had no significant relationship with the child. He noted that these were all preliminary findings, and therefore open to changes in the future. Fathers and friends were the next category of perpetrators.
Dr Cooper stated that the research had been totally self-funded by the behavioural scientists. The National Institutions fiscally funded for research maintained that their rules did not allow them to offer financial support. He noted that they were presented with the plea that had been circulated in the meeting. In 1999 the Department of Correctional Services had approved a profile of child rapists. However, nothing had been done on that research.
Dr Cooper concluded that, regardless of the direction to be taken, it would be necessary to stipulate the deliverables in order to ensure that the research would indeed be socially relevant and applicable. He stated that although he had dealt with the key elements of his presentation, it would soon be presented to the committee in writing.
Ms Ghandi (ANC) asked if the perpetrators were from mentally retarded families.
Dr Cooper responded that this question was not sustained by the data. Thus, intervention would be necessary.
Mrs Ghandi enquired whether foetal alcohol syndrome had a part to play.
Dr Jassat asked why most of the perpetrators were young.
Dr Cooper stated that the questions put forward were part of the current assessment. Presently he did not have the facts that would enable him to respond. He noted that the issues would be included in the study when the real facts became available.
Mr Morkel (NNP) asked whether a register would assist them in their studies.
Dr Cooper responded that he did not care to comment on the register as it was a matter that was sufficiently dealt with in the public debate. The Constitution would be used to test its validity. He emphasised that fact that the serious national crisis would require serious national measures, balancing individual rights and protecting victims.
Ms Govender (ANC) asked whether there had been any studies of baby rape cases prior to 1994, as well as internationally, in the context of war.
Dr Cooper said that although the literature indicated baby rape cases, the frequency was not similar to that currently faced, especially since November 2001.
Ms Govender asked whether they were looking at the HIV virginity myth.
Dr Cooper stated that they were currently in the process of collecting information. The HIV debate would surely be dealt with in that context.
Mr Baloyi (ANC) wanted to know what challenges were faced in light of the fact that our abnormal society had become accepted as normal.
Dr Cooper responded that they had a lot to contribute to the dictionary meaning of regular human behaviour, through tending to focus on abnormalities.
Mr Masutha (ANC) stated that persons would only know they were HIV positive after testing. However, they receive counselling after being tested, so where were things going wrong?
Dr Cooper replied that he did not have sufficient information to state when things go wrong. However, he did say that it would be incumbent on the Task Group to consider the quality of counselling that would take place. Social acceptance of the disease would also be necessary.
Dr Neil Anderson stated that they had just completed a pilot study on sexual violence and the HIV risk in school going youth aged between twelve and twenty one years, spurred on by the opportunity of these hearings. The findings were made in Gauteng, and they were self-funded.
He highlighted three themes. How common sexual violence against children is, the social implications and the manner in which the pilot study was conducted. He stated that 9300 children, covering all the provinces both in rural and urban areas, and primary and secondary school, had been dealt with.
Dr Anderson stated that the main findings were as follows:
-6% of both sexes endured from forced sex.
-Rural areas were considerably more affected than urban areas.
-The age at which sex was forced upon children was increasingly young.
-With a strong bias to the rural areas.
-Rape cases are not evenly spread over the country.
-Greater significance of simply any abuse.
-One third of the sample group were sexually active.
-90% of the older youth were sexually active.
-Touching and beating was more common than forced sex.
-20% of that males were forced to have sex-
-19% of the girls were forced to have se-x
-17% of the boys said that had raped before-
-9% of the girls agreed to raping before
He looked at the question whether victims would become villains, and stated that on average victims were three times more likely to commit the crime. He noted that all the findings were based on self-reports and admissions, thereby making the results fairly reliable.
Dr Anderson moved on to the social implications:
-Culture of sexual violence important because 40% to 50% of the children thought that rape did not happen if it was someone that they knew.
-Boys said that girls meant yes when they said no. A ratio of 1: 5 girls agreed.
-Boys said that girls preferred violent guys. 1: 20 girls agreed.
-Boys said that girls asked for rape
-In general, boys said that girls had no right to say 'no' to sex with their boyfriends. Some females agreed.
-Over half of the youth said that sexual violence was caused by girls, or by both sexes.
Dr Anderson looked at the responses to the pilot study:
The teams were welcomed by all than one teacher. There was a low non-response rate by the youth. There was a high level of participation. All schools requested that they return in the future.
He stated that the results pointed to the fact that children did not have anyone to talk to about the problems. This called for guidance counsellors. He moved on to additional findings:
-Many youth said that they would/do not use condoms
-20 -30% of them stated that the use of condoms would not reduce the chance of become HIV infected.
-Many believed that sex with a virgin does cure HIV.
-Many children stated that they believed that they were already infected with HIV.
-Many of the children said that they would have sex, even if in the knowledge that they were HIV positive.
-Between 10% and 15% of the youth were willing to spread HIV.
Dr Anderson concluded by saying that this was a priority area.
Mr Saloojee (ANC) gave him thanks. He allowed five minutes to ask questions.
Mr Jassat asked whether there were any comparative studies.
Dr Anderson said that this had not occurred. Sexual violence was a tremendously difficult area to investigate. It would first be necessary to provide support systems before requesting answers from individuals.
Mr Jassat commented that the removal of socio-economic conditions would assist the problem.
Dr Anderson said that this was not his area of strength. However, he was able to say that the matter was investigated over the whole range of socio-economic conditions, and the problem was found everywhere.
Mr Masutha (ANC) wanted to know how the socio-psycho-sexual tendencies were passed on through generations.
Dr Anderson responded that they were seriously investigating the culture of sexual violence. However, it was clear that the problem evolved through generations.
Mr Baloyi asked whether all the children understood the questions and to what degree bravado existed.
Dr Anderson stated that the questions were asked in seven languages. In addition, the results were discussed with children's focus groups in order to confirm them.
Mr Dithebe (ANC) asked whether there were any follow-ups regarding the counselling of the youth.
Dr Anderson clarified that they were not asking whether the children had been tested or not.
Ms Motsomai asked whether 'forced sex' and 'rape' referred to two different things.
Dr Anderson was confident that forced sex amounted to rape.
Mrs Matsamayi wanted to know the reasoning behind the conclusion that girls asked for rape.
Pullative Medicine Institute
Dr Selma Browde explained that she was a medical doctor and would not be able to quote statistics or provide really professional answers. In her opinion she had been invited because of the work she was doing in the communities. Their work has brought them largely into the context of HIV, and in light of this they had observations regarding the high rates of child abuse.
Dr Browde dealt with the rape of babies, and said that there was a definite connection with the myth that HIV could be cured through having sex with a baby. She stated that the myth was passed on by traditional healers. Thus, the approximately 300 000 traditional healers in South Africa had a very influential part in the problem. It is necessary to seek traditional healers that are prepared to co-operate in organised campaigns to tell the truth. The programme would have to be reached in consultation with the healers. A similar campaign has begun in Uganda whereby the President addressed communities as if conducting a political campaign. This was a matter of urgency and adequate funds would have to be made available for this.
Dr Browde referred to the earlier question about the adequacy of counselling, and stated that although both pre-test and post-test counselling was very necessary, it was currently inadequate. One session would not suffice. She proposed involving the parents of South Africa, requiring that they talk to their children; she felt that the HIV epidemic could not be dealt with without involving parents.
Dr Browde explained that their institute had just launched a 'Parent of People with HIV' organisation, with the aim of mobilising all parents. It involved holding workshops in order to combat ignorance of the epidemic. Another aspect would be teaching parents how to love and support HIV positive children. Rehabilitation centres for HIV positive people are necessary, a type of Positive Learning Centre as in Hillbrow Johannesburg. It would help to break the stigma.
Dr Browde dealt with abuse as a result of poverty. She recognised the close correlation worldwide, and stated that South Africa had a tremendous legacy in that regard. More would have to be done. She referred to the symbiotic relationship between poverty and abuse and stated that:
-there would be an emotional breakdown from poverty.
-deprivation created a lack of concern.
-poverty produced internal lawlessness; a 'why bother' attitude that could lead to abuse of the self and others.
-children would be particularly abused because they are seen as an extension of the self. It would therefore be important to recognise what happens with the vast unemployed population of South Africa. It has been shown that unemployed men would sit around day in and day out until situations of abuse resulted.
Dr Browde mentioned structural factors such inadequate housing and living conditions. The result is the removal of boundaries of sexual abuse and incest usually occurs. Children are exposed to adult sexual activity, which would lead them to want to engage in such acts. Children therefore learn sexual behaviour inappropriately, and she gave the example of a seven year old boy attempting to rape girls. Poverty would have the effect of perverting taboos.
Dr Browde mentioned that it puzzled her why schoolteachers were not given a higher status in society, and that it would have to somehow be raised. She referred to a Gauteng school that appointed a temporary teacher for a special class in 1999. This was a class containing students who, although they had normal IQ levels, were emotionally damaged. The class consisted of approximately twenty students. However, they were not given a classroom and conducted their studies in the lobby. The teacher found the children impossible. However, she gradually got through to them. Nevertheless, she was never given permanent employment, and eventually had to leave the country. At the end of the year, all the students spoke about a relationship with their teacher. This therefore takes us to the parents.
Dr Browde concluded by saying that greater effort would have to be made to reduce poverty. She proposed a change in the budget, making more money available for poverty alleviation and unemployment. She emphasised that a great deal would have to be done urgently.
Child Protection Programme
A submission was made by Prof Rose September on behalf of the Child Protection Programme of the University of the Western Cape.
The focus of the child protection programme (CPP) at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) is to ensure child protection, especially issues of child abuse, exploitation and neglect.
They focus on child protection service training, services and policy development. She emphasised the fact that Child Protection Services should not only be the responsibility of government but that the protection of children should have a multi-disciplinary nature.
The National Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect (NCCAN) are involved in the development of a draft National Strategy on Child Abuse and Neglect (NSCAN).
The sexual abuse and neglect of children are not confined to any social class but impoverished conditions place children more at risk of being abused, assaulted, murdered, exploited sexually and used as cheap labour. This places children at high risk of contracting HIV/AIDS.
Since the early 1990's several efforts to address child abuse and neglect have been made. This initiated the National Strategy on Child Abuse and Neglect, which came into existence in 1996.
Challenges that the child protection workers face include; the balance between protection and poverty eradication. Furthermore, old paradigms of child welfare and child protection policies have radically changed. There has been a move to promote the family structure as opposed to out-of-home-care. This places the burden of child protection services on community-based intervention.
Changes in transformation including financial, institutional and governance structures impacting on the service delivery systems. Prof September emphasised that little attention was given to these changes in program and that the support needed to respond effectively and efficiently to these multiple challenges are often lacking.
The National Strategy on Child Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation made structural provisions and took action steps on national, provincial and local levels. There is hope that the present child protection system could be pulled together and properly resourced. This will enable it to function as a coherent and effective whole.
The Child Protection System aims to be sensitive and appropriate to regional and local conditions and to uphold basic standards throughout the process.
The focus of the National Strategy is on the involvement of children in child labour, commercial sexual exploitation, special groups of children vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, disabled children, children affected by HIV/AIDS, children living on the streets and children in out of home placements.
The National strategy speaks to the core commitments towards the children. The current and new child protection system obliges government to act in a certain way to provide a special grant for children in need.
If Government completes the National Strategy it will speed up the efficiency and service delivery. Cabinet and an Inter-Ministerial Committee could fast track the delivery gap of the child protection system if they put this issue on their agenda.
Provision should be made to include the National Strategy in their expenditure. Cabinet should provide a budget plan for each Province to combat the sexual abuse and neglect of children. It must be noted that child protection is a specialised field and that child protection is a holistic issue, which requires a well-resourced system.
Mr C Morkel (NNP) asked about the neighbourhood child protection committees; to what extent does capacity building need to be improved by these Committees.
Dr R September answered that these committees do not have the infrastructure, as they are not linked to the broader system. There is a need for interaction and work on a higher level in order to build capacity. The role and services of local government should be considerably increased and it is recommended that social services should become a desk at local level.
National House of Traditional Healers
Kgosi Suping stated that his submission is neither academic nor scientific but merely traditional. The NHTL views with dismay the high rate of rapes in the 'rainbow nation' and calls for urgent action to be taken to address this anti-social behavior. The NHTL rejects the myth that having sex with a virgin cures HIV/AIDS. The NHTL is calling for the restoration of the pride, dignity and moral fibre of the nation. A national imbizo should be convened, followed by provincial ones to urge people to develop self-esteem and self respect and thereby bring back ubuntu to where it originally belongs.
The NHTL contends that poverty and unemployment affects one's reasoning and affects one's sense of reasoning, thereby culminating in human physical force being misdirected. But it is by no means a way of justifying rape. The NHTL is calling for all concerned to condemn rape with one voice that is loud and clear.
Drugs and alcohol also contribute to the high incidents of rape and sexual abuse of children. The problem of Illegal Immigrants who are driven to this country by hunger, unemployment and instability needs to be addressed by the Department of Safety and Security.
Finally he mentioned the traditional method of monitoring strangers and visitors in traditional areas. The concept of "Go Bega", which is the introduction of strangers in traditional authority areas, deals with the suppression of a crime, as a host is compelled to introduce his guest to a community. This concept has been proved valuable in traditional communities.
To this he added that under this system of "Go Bega" baby Tsepang's attackers would have been identified and caught almost immediately.
Kgosi Suping mentioned that the Department of Education has made shocking disclosures about the sexual abuse of children in schools. The manner in which school children dress must be looked into. Shorter dresses attract weaker men and a school uniform which makes school children less attractive in appearance should be considered. He said further that toward the end of last year the King of Kwa-Zulu Natal called on the traditional leaders to call an Imbizo addressing men to take the message to other men to put a stop to sexual abuse of children.
Women in the Task Group picked on the issue of dress attracting the attention of men. A few Members suggested that in their childhood they grew up wearing traditional dress which is eye catching, but did not lead to incidents of rape.
A Member asked what traditional leaders were doing about this high increase in child abuse and rape. He also said that indigenous sexual behavior played an important role in the tradition of the Black People in the past. He asked what traditional leaders are doing in revising this traditional sexual education.
Kgosi Suping said that in the past African children were never left alone, they were always chaperoned by an elderly person. Nowadays neglectful parents leave their children unattended and unsupervised.
He referred to the imbizo and said that in Kwa-Zulu Natal, together with the Minister of Health, an AIDS Task Team has been formed. This team will hold workshops at the end of the month in Benoni; 50 Traditional Leaders from the province have been invited. It is hoped that they will leave with valuable information and impart it to other people in the community.
Kgosi referred to the dress issues and stated that when short dresses are worn, female pupils sit at the desk spread their legs apart and expose their thighs. This leads to weaker male teacher's being unable to control their urges and taking advantage of these females.
Regarding indigenous sexual education, presently the traditional leaders are receiving a rebuff from the politicians and academics as some still run initiation schools which are perceived to be contrary to one's rights entrenched in the Constitution.
A Member asked what traditional leaders were doing about making children aware of the right to say no to sex, as traditionally a female does not have the right to say no to sex. How are they empowering women to say "No"?
Another Member referred to the "Go Bega" project and asked how you keep track of all the people especially when it is the practice to rent out rooms to various people.
Kgosi Suping replied that in a rural set up it is very easy to keep track of all new people in a community and in this manner it is easy to watch or monitor their movements. Hence a perpetrator will be easily identified and apprehended.
Alliance for Children's Entitlement to Social Security
Ms Motala from the Alliance for Children's Entitlement to Social Security (ACESS) supported the call for a comprehensive social security system that ensures children's survival and a standard of living adequate for their development. ACESS hopes that this Task Team will resolve to identify both immediate actions, which can contribute to reducing and mitigating the impact of sexual abuse as well as in identifying and addressing the long-term structural and societal factors. She thereafter read out the consensus statement on sexual abuse to the Task Group.
Ms Pollecut representing Soul City, a multi media health project addressing health and development issues through the popular media, read out the findings of the Soul City research to the task group.
A Member stated that there should be a focus on men because male rape is not explored adequately in this country. Does Soul City have a program aimed at males?
The phenomenon of poverty has been around for a long time. What has changed to make it so bad?
Ms Pollecut said that Soul City focuses on gender equality education. There is not one program aimed at males only.
Ms Pollecut acknowledged that the nature of the poverty has changed. This has lead to children having to be placed in orphanages, which places them in a vulnerable position.
A Member asked about the research done on the profile of perpetrators, and asked if research focused on people in prison, in rehabilitation or on trial. She highlighted the media reports which said that the mother of the baby who was raped showed no remorse. It is unfair to make such a judgment call without knowing for a fact what the mother was going through.
Ms Pollecut said that it is an unkind remark to have been made. Sometimes these mothers do not have the resources to deal with such an ordeal. Sexual education for women is necessary to give women the option of how to deal with a situation of pregnancy, and the options of terminating the pregnancy should they feel the need to.
With respect to the perpetrator's profile, there is not enough research done on who these people are, and on their characters and personality. There was a study undertaken in the 1980s on rapists on death row and the motives behind their acts.
The hearings were adjourned for the day.
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