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Johannesburg - A survey of women says most of its respondents would prefer to seek help from family and friends than report abuse that includes sexual violence to the police.

The survey conducted by 1st for Women Insurance with over 1 200 women indicates that 66% of respondents who were victims said they would seek help from family rather than go to a police station, while 54% said they would go to an appropriate NGO.

The survey was conducted to coincide with the launch of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign. It indicates that alcohol abuse, prejudice and sexism contributed to 32% of the abuse against the women surveyed.

“Interestingly, the survey also revealed that while 90% of the respondents believed that better law enforcement was fundamental to the long-term solution of women abuse, the justice system was also considered to be broken, with high levels of police corruption and no consequences for perpetrators,” said Casey Rausseau, a marketing manager for the insurance company.

Responding to the survey, Itumeleng Moloko, a counselling manager for NGO People Opposing Women Abuse said: “It’s said that police are not protecting women and this is the reason women are no longer willing to report their cases at police stations. Again, the court process that they have to go through is also hectic.”

Mbuyiselo Botha, from NGO Sonke Gender Justice, said police were not helpful to abuse victims.

“We have seen police, men and women, ask victims inappropriate questions and they suffered secondary victimisation. The questions are also intrusive in a sense that they are asked why the victims were at the scenes at that time. Why were you drinking alcohol? Actually, they are reluctant to go to police stations. There is no level of empathy,” he said.

Police spokesperson Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said families who failed to report cases of sexual abuse may be committing a crime “and any police officer who fails to register a complaint of sexual abuse or any committed crime is acting against the SAPS code of conduct”.

The Sunday Independent