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New Projects: The legal assistance Programme

South Africa has one of the highest rates of Gender Based Violence globally.

Statistics on abuse and violence in South Africa:

  • A woman is killed every four hours in South Africa – some research suggests that around half of these are killed by intimate partners (though a lack of police reporting specifically on intimate partner violence makes the exact figure difficult to ascertain).
  • 35% (1 in 3) of school-age children report having experienced sexual abuse in their lifetime – this statistic is lower when the same age group is interviewed at home (as opposed to school).
  • Both girls and boys report high rates of sexual abuse – girls are slightly more likely to report it to police.
  • Sixty-six child murders were reported in the Western Cape last year, including the brutal killings of young girls Courtney Pieters, Iyapha Yamile, Lindokuhle Kota, Rene Roman, Cleo de Bryn, Shaynice Talla and Cameron Britz.
  • Crime stats for 2016/2017 showed a decrease in rapes reported (all age groups) – though there is no way of calculating how many are underreported, and police negligence in these cases has long received criticism. We have no conclusive data concerning rape rates in South Africa.
  • 82% of children report experiencing some form of victimisation (whether criminal victimisation or exposure to family or community violence). By and large, girls and urban dwellers are more likely to report these experiences than boys and those living in rural areas.

The Solution:
Affording survivors of gender based violence their constitutional right to equal access to and protection of the law.

Studies suggest that access to legal services can be a critical tool in helping survivors escape from abusive relationships and that access to legal services has helped to decrease the number of survivors. South Africa’s Domestic Violence Act contains many laudable elements which could be held up as examples of good practice. Yet it has not been implemented effectively and thus cannot routinely meet its purpose to provide the maximum protection of the law to survivors of domestic violence. Survivors of Domestic Violence needs a holistic model of legal representation to ensure that all the legal needs of these most vulnerable members of society are addressed and to help prevent further victimization.

The Saartjie Baartman Centre has relaunched our legal assistance programme and are proud to be able to assist the most vulnerable members of our shelter and the community. The service is free to the community.

Our Services Model




Ø   Orientation Unit accommodating 24 women and their children

Ø   Substance Unit accommodating 8 women and their children

Ø   Therapeutic Unit accommodating 64 women and their children

Ø   Independent Living Unit / 2nd Stage Housing accommodating 24 women and children


This programme is a 24-hour crisis response for abused women and children that have been victims of a crime or violence.

The aim of the programme is not only to provide immediate safe accommodation for women and children but also to heal, rebuild, uplift and empower.

Clients have access to short and medium term housing and can access our holistic services through therapeutic intervention, support groups, recreational and educational workshops, medical support, accredited skills training and legal advice and assistance (as describe in our other programmes).




Ø   Intake Assessment and Counselling

Community members (walk in clients) wanting to access our services are assessed by social workers, social auxiliary workers as well as social work students - under the supervision of our registered social workers.

In this programme, clients receive short and medium term counselling, referrals for safe accommodation, legal services and referrals to other government departments and Non-Governmental agencies.



Ø   Education and Awareness

The programme aims to educate school learners to better understand themselves, their difficulties and to teach them how to deal with challenges often faced in their homes and/or communities due to violence as well as to equip them with practical tools and ideas which they can implement daily. The project runs between 6 – 12 weeks at their schools and furthermore the teachers also receive training to better understand children being abused, harassed or bullied and how to deal with violence within schools.


Ø   Community Outreach;

The SBCWC staff conduct talks and workshops within communities, with stakeholders, civil society organisations and corporations about Gender Based Violence.



Ø   Children’s Counselling Programme

The aim of the project is to provide services to children and adolescents. All children aged between 3 years and 18 years old residing at the Centre access children’s counselling as they too have been exposed to the violence in the home or community setting. The project offers assessments, supportive counselling, psychometric services and psycho- education and creates awareness through media initiatives.


Ø   Early Childhood Development

The project is run by an ECD Practitioner who provides services for children of clients residing with us and works closely with the Children’s Counsellor in order to identify challenges and behavioural problems the individual may be experiencing. It enables the children to not just develop academically but also emotionally. The project has a well-run crèche as well as an afterschool service for older children.


Programme 3: Job Skills Programme

Ø   Accredited Skills Training

Ø   In Service Training

Ø   Job Placement

Ø   Catering and Events Management

Clients have the option to participate in various accredited job skills training and job opportunities and job creation within the centre as well as, possible job placement after they leave the residential programme. This gives them the opportunity to break the dependency on their partners and become empowered.


Programme 4: Advocacy and Rights Programme

The Centre runs an intensified public relations strategy / campaign. Media spokespersons in the organisation share information about gender based violence and human rights throughout the year on radio, television, public engagements and newsprint. We reach over 1 million people per month through public participation and campaigns.

Advocating for legislative reform and enforcement of laws focussing on the promotion and the protection of women’s rights, as well as women’s awareness of laws, regulations and policies that affect their rights and lives.


Ø   Khusuleka Model

Ø    Advocacy and Awareness raising

Ø    Campaigns and Events















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