Rape centre overrun

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Synnov Skorge done

Synnov Skorge, Director of Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children. Picture Henk Kruger/Cape Argus

Cape Town - The brutal murder of Bredasdorp teenager Anene Booysen has sparked an increase in the number of people looking for help at places like the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children where scores of people showed up on Monday morning.

Centre director Synnov Skorge said yon Monday she had never seen so many people in the reception area in 13 years in Manenberg.

“We had people sitting on the floor in our waiting room because there was not enough room for everyone. Part of this response is due to the outrage at Anene’s death but also because people had been urged to speak out about the abuse they have experienced.”

Skorge, pictured, said she was happy that people were speaking out against rape and abuse.

A 54-year-old Kewtown resident was one of the women seeking counselling at the centre.

She said her husband had been abusing her and her children for 13 years and she wanted help in getting a restraining order against him.

Skorge said: “It’s a crisis and we have been trying to raise awareness, but what concerns us that it’s all going to die away and nothing will be done. Like the Soweto case of Jackpot, that went away after the media hype and nothing changed.”

“Jackpot” is the 17-year-old girl, believed to be mentally ill, who was gang-raped in Soweto last year by a group of seven, including four minors, who recorded a video of the rape.

Skorge said some of the women who came to the centre had initially gone to the police who sent them to the centre.

Owing to a lack of funding the centre had one counsellor, who worked until lunchtime, and student counsellors to help clients.

“But it is not fair for the students to handle that level of counselling and it is also not fair on the victims because they deserve the best service,” she said.

Skorge said when the centre was on the brink of closure last year, it received the most donations from pensioners, pupils and the public but not much from the government.

The provincial Department of Social Development had provided 25 percent of the centre’s R4 million running costs, and its fundraising efforts were continuing.

Nazma Hendricks, operations manager at Rape Crisis Centre in Cape Town, said the centre had been struggling to raise about R6m in annual operational costs and had had to retrench staff. This had affected service.

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Cape Argus


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