[Svrilist] [Fwd: [af-aids] Comment: Changing the law in Kenya to protect rape survivors (1)]

Liz Dartnall svri at mrc.ac.za
Tue Jul 18 08:51:36 SAST 2006

Charlene Smith, South Africa

Af Aids Mods note: this posting is the first comment in response to the 
news item 'Changing the law in Kenya to protect rape survivors', which 
can be found in full here: 
http://eforums.healthdev.org/read/messages?id=12565 [Source:  AF-AIDS 
eForum 2006: af-aids at eforums.healthdev.org. Recirculated with permission 
from the author]
We in South Africa were the first in the world to push for post-exposure 
prophylaxis (PEP) after rape, indeed, after I was raped in April 1999. 
It looked as though we were going to come up with a world first by 
having PEP prescribed in our new sexual offences legislation, which has 
been waiting to be tabled since 2002. But, it then went before our 
cabinet, the highest executive arm of Government: a third of its members 
are women and President Thabo Mbeki chairs it.

As I wrote in 'On the Sidelines Clapping' (Heinrich Boll, 2006 - contact 
Angelica Pino, at angelica at boell.org.za for a copy):

"On July 24 2003, South Africa's cabinet, struck out section 21 of the 
draft Sexual Offences legislation, which would have provided [1] for 
counselling for rape survivors and treatment to prevent pregnancy and 
sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. Cabinet kept in section 
22, however, which provides for the medical care of rapists including 
the very expensive costs of rehabilitation of narcotics or alcohol 
addictions [see 1 below].

A 2004 communiqué from NGOs across southern Africa called for 'all SADC 
countries to provide post-sexual violence medical therapies for women 
and girls and especially those therapies that prevent and reduce the 
transmission of HIV and STIs.'

"Professor Ames Dhai of head of BioEthics at the University of the 
Witwatersrand, points out that there are twice as many rape survivors at 
risk of seroconversion to HIV as babies born in SA - and yet there is 
little support for post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for rape survivors.

"'Is it because of residual stigma against those raped?' she has 
queried. She points out too that the SA constitution enshrines the right 
not to be refused emergency medical treatment - as reaffirmed by the 
Constitutional Court in terms of section 27 (3), in the Soobramoney case 
where the court said medical treatment was obligatory in the case 'of a 
sudden catastrophe such as an accident or assault' [see 2 below].

"In Gauteng PEP had, in an 18 month period to early 2005, and with 
limited rollout, been given to 20 000 rape survivors, according to Gwen 
Ramakgopa the member of the provincial legislature in charge of health. 
The national Department of Health gives either a three-day or seven-day 
starter pack of PEP and tells the rape survivor to come back for follow 
up meds.

"But this has been criticised as policy that ignores poverty: most rape 
survivors cannot afford the bus or taxi fare to return for the 
medication a woman or child who does not take the full 28-day treatment 
is not adequately protected against HIV."

So bravo to Kenya and shame on us, her far wealthier neighbour.

Charlene Smith
Johannesburg, South Africa
E: clsmith at global.co.za

[1] Section 22: (1) A court may, upon conviction of a person of having 
committed a sexual offence and if satisfied that the convicted person is 
dependent on or has the propensity to misuse alcohol or any drug and may 
benefit from treatment, grant an order in terms of section 296 of the 
Criminal Procedure Act, 1977 (Act No. 51 of 1977): Provided that such an 
order may be made in addition to any sentence, including a sentence of 
imprisonment which is not suspended.

[2] 'Assessing the constitutional protection of human rights in SA 
during the first decade of democracy' by Kathy Govender [available 
online here: http://www.library.und.ac.za/lecturer.htm]

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