Inclusive, Enabling Communities

Inclusive, Enabling Communities
Learning Brief


Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust

The Road to Justice: A campaign to strengthen the criminal justice system for rape survivors

Category: Inclusive, Enabling Communities | Women and children affected by abuse/violence | 14 August, 2013 - 22:00

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Rape Crisis has a vision of a South African criminal justice system that supports and empowers rape survivors in all of its interventions. Until such time as this vision becomes a reality we provide that support and empowerment. We believe that the rape survivor is the key to a successful conviction and that her/his empowerment is based on safety, respect, support and the ability to make informed choices as she/he embarks on this difficult and challenging journey.

ROAD TO JUSTICE CAMPAIGN

Our Road to Justice campaign is a large project that trains community based volunteers as court supporters located at regional courts; and that has produced a comprehensive booklet for court supporters who assist survivors going through the process of a rape trial. Through the Road to Justice Project, Rape Crisis also recruits and trains counsellors – based at two Thuthuzela Care Centres in Cape Town – who see and counsel more than 5,000 rape survivors each year. In addition Rape Crisis trains volunteers based at police stations around the province in how to support rape survivors coming to report rapes at their Community Service Centres.

The overall goal of the Road to Justice campaign is to persuade the South Africa government to enact legislation that empowers victims of violent crime. It consists of three key elements, and while the campaign as a whole has more to it than these three elements, in this learning brief we describe how best to harmonise these elements with both the internal and external campaign environments.

The three elements we highlight are:

  1. Training for officials and service providers within the criminal justice system.
  2. Developing a job-aid handbook for service providers who work with rape survivors.
  3. Initiating a series of community dialogues, designed to harness the voice of the rape survivor’s community in engaging with the system and with decision makers.

LESSONS ON HARMONISING CAMPAIGN ELEMENTS

The first step in harmonising our campaign elements was to form a Road to Justice Campaign coalition of 15 partners from among civil society organisations and academic research institutions. We did this through a workshop that presented research done by Rape Crisis and partners on gaps in current legislation and recommendations on how these gaps could be addressed. The participants then looked at a potential influence strategy that would target certain decision makers, deliver the campaign message and call for specific action. We agreed on who would be responsible for driving the influence strategy and a Steering Committee was nominated.

The next step in harmonising our campaign elements was to hold a series of community dialogues presenting our project ideas and garnering feedback and responses to these ideas from the community. Based on the community responses, we adapted our plans and then set out to find a group of community spokespersons that could present their opinions in advocacy meetings with decision makers.

The third step in harmonising our campaign elements was to train the court officials and to develop the instructional handbook in order to begin addressing gaps in service delivery. We rolled our program out so that we could improve the situation for rape survivors in Cape Town in a more immediate way.

IMPLEMENTATION LESSONS

We learned that project development is not a linear process. In reality it is like a flock of birds chasing flying insects through the air – there is purpose to the motion but the progress made is not immediately obvious.

Although we had strategically designed a step-by-step action plan we soon learned that change is stochastic and that we fare better when we remain flexible, observe and respond appropriately to signs of progress, and make use of the emergent opportunities that serendipitously come our way.

We learned that some project ideas meet with strong resistance. For example, we encountered lack of political commitment around the issue of violence against women; lack of proper resource allocation within the criminal justice system for the care of rape victims; lack of collaboration between service providers dealing with rape survivors; and a crisis in NGO funding for female victims of abuse.

CONCLUSION

At the Rape Crisis we are accustomed to adapting our operations, and to dealing with the unexpected. We value the strength of our coalition because it has enabled us to garner support from partner organisations when we fail in on service area, and we were able to provide support for other organisations struggling with their own issues.  Together, we have completed the instructional handbook that has already proved very useful for court officials in helping guide rape survivors through the criminal justice system in an efficient, sensitive, and safe way. This is a testament to the importance and success of our coalition building.


23 Trill street Cape Town Observatory Western Cape South Africa


 (021) 447 1467


 rapecrisis.org.za/

In Short

In this brief, the Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust shares lessons on how it developed and launched an instructional handbook that aids court officials in helping guide rape survivors through the criminal justice system in an efficient, sensitive, and safe way. This learning brief describes how best to harmonise core program elements with both the internal and external campaign environments in order to achieve program goals. It offers a testament to the importance and success of coalition building and project partnerships.


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