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Ngwelezane Thuthuzela Care Center Launch
August 3, 2012
Remarks by USAID/SA Mission Director Jeff Borns.
Good morning. Thank you for the opportunity on behalf of USAID to launch the Ngwelezane Thuthuzela Care Center (TCC).
As we celebrate South Africa’s Women’s Month in August, let us be mindful of two key issues:
1. The courageous South African’s women’s passion and mobilization that changed South Africa’s discriminatory laws; and
2. , We all share the duty to protect women, children and all vulnerable people in this country.
I am pleased that we are launching a TCC this month—it’s a statement of restoring dignity to the vulnerable segments of society.
So let me begin my remarks today by acknowledging South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority’s Sexual Offenses and Community Affairs (SOCA) Unit, and their counterparts who work tirelessly to make these havens of hope possible within communities such as this.
I would also like to recognize our other partners in South Africa’s Government, our implementing associates--RTI, and especially our guests from the Thuthuzela Care Centers, police stations, nongovernmental organizations, courts and hospitals who provide direct services to those who have suffered violent attacks. I recognize the staff from RK Khan TCC here today, which is also supported through USAID. All of you play an extremely crucial role in helping South Africa’s survivors of gender-based violence to recover from their traumas. We thank you for your dedication and perseverance.
The Women’s Justice & Empowerment Initiative (WJEI) is a 4-country U.S. Presidential Initiative announced by the White House in 2007. In addition to South Africa, WJEI is also being implemented in Benin, Kenya, and Zambia.
South Africa’s flagship WJEI program is the largest on the continent; it has and continues to be a model for the other WJEI countries.
It is also one of the United States Government’s primary tools to support our long-standing partnership with the South African Government to strengthen the country’s efforts to eliminate violence against women and children and to help the survivors to cope with their shocking ordeals.
It is an honor for the US Government to support the South African Government’s anti-rape strategy and TCC model in particular, since it has been widely recognized as an effective way of providing much needed services to survivors of gender based violence. The USG is supporting the TCC network in South Africa through two U.S. Presidential Initiatives: the Women’s Justice & Empowerment Initiative (WJEI) and the President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which has, to date, assisted more than 20,000 survivors of gender-based violence.
To date, USAID has supported the establishment and upgrade of 40 TCCs across the country. We have supported staffing, the creation of safe comfortable spaces through mobile units or renovations and equipping the TCCs to provide quality services.
This TCC is in the heart of the Ngwelezane township, is based within a newly designated tertiary hospital which services approximately 3 million people. The TCC provides much needed medical and psychosocial services to residents of the surrounding communities. They will be able to access immediate medical examinations, emergency medical care and evidence collection, voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) as well as post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) treatment to prevent HIV transmission in case their attacker(s) have HIV. Beneficiaries will also receive much needed counseling, safety planning, shelter services and emergency placement. Professionally-trained and compassionate staff render these services, already having reached a total of 650 sexual violence survivors since August 2011.
I have heard stories of the dedication of staff at this very center, in dealing with some harsh cases, such as when a young orphaned child was brutally attacked, had her right eye gorged out and was then raped. I am told that the staff from all the departments working with this TCC took her case to heart, rallied around the little girl, providing her and to her caregiver with all the psychosocial support they needed and placing the child in a boarding school that she now attends. Showing their absolute dedication, the staff even facilitated an artificial eye for the child – she why she is considered a “survivor”?. This smooth process would not have been possible if this TCC was not established. To every person who went beyond the call of duty, I say a huge Siyabonga (thank you).
Those of you who work at TCCs must recognize your ability to be cutting edge change agents – there is no other program that brings together so many Government departments and civil society partners toward a common vision. You demonstrate the ability to move beyond silo operations to strategic change. You are a powerful learning context for the other sectors within RSA and across the globe.
Victims access the full range of help needed TO BECOME SURVIVORS: first, they are treated physically and psychologically by caring TCC staff. Lastly, they are helped by law enforcement professionals to identify and prosecute the attacker through the legal court system. Attention is even given to monitor, evaluate and help reform perpetrators.
We have a great deal of confidence in this program -- and above all, in you, our partners. The Thuthuzela Care Centre is a “best practice” model with proven capacity to “turn victims into survivors.” It is not only a best practice model to the other 3 WJEI countries, it has also been applied outside of the WJEI program in places as diverse as Ethiopia and Chile.
In closing, I would like say just a few words about the unique partnership we have with the South African Government on this initiative.
“Partnership” and “ownership” are words used often in development work.
With the WJEI program and the NPA, our partnership meets every form of commitment connoted by the term. Our working relationship is a strong model of how development work can and should be done.
We work with the South African Government as equal partners, standing shoulder to shoulder; to address the problem of gender based violence. USAID considers it an honor as Americans working with South Africans for South Africans.
Your support – and the support of every department represented here today – has and will continue to be crucial to the success of this initiative that aims to effectively address the medical and social needs of sexual assault survivors, reduce secondary victimization, improve conviction rates and reduce the lead time for finalization of cases.
Thank you, again. We look forward to continuing our partnership with all of you.