Desperate Rape Crisis centre in Cape Town faces closure

Rape Crisis, a non-governmental organisation which has helped survivors of rape and sexual violence in Cape Town since 1976, warned it was facing a “very serious” financial crisis which could force it to close its doors.

“In the last two years, two core funders ended their relationship with Rape Crisis, one of them leaving the country and the other feeling it was time to move on after 10 years of support.

“A number of international funders have also ended their trade agreements and have moved out of the country, while local (South African) funders choose to move into impoverished communities and not the Western Cape, which is seen as having more resources,” Rape Crisis director Chantel Cooper told the Cape Argus.

While the National Lottery Board has also not supported the organisation since 2006, expenses have soared and currently stand at R300 000 a month.

Transport, which is provided to all victims, was one of the biggest factors contributing to the rise in expenses, while other costs included the volunteer stipend, salaries, rental, phone bills, electricity and water.

“We are just not able to make ends meet,” Cooper said.

“The demand for our services is increasing, but we are not able to meet the demand because of a lack of resources.”

Rape Crisis provides four core services aimed at prevention of violence against women, providing counselling and support to victims, lobbying and advocacy, and volunteer recruitment and development.

The organisation has three area offices in Observatory, Khayelitsha and Athlone, a 24-hour counselling hotline, and a 24-hour trauma centre at the GF Jooste Hospital where police take rape survivors for counselling and medical attention.

Rape Crisis also runs support services at four courts – Wynberg, Khayelitsha, Parow and Cape Town magistrate’s courts – providing support throughout the secondary trauma experienced during the court process.

It operates with 13 fulltime staff, up to 10 court supporters, eight counsellors at the hospital and about 40 volunteers.

Cooper said: “If we had core funding it would be much easier, but our core funding used to come in euros, pounds and dollars once we lost that, we had to cut back on a lot of the services we provided.”

She said Rape Crisis offered a crucial service not only to survivors of rape and sexual violence but also to entire communities where there are prevention programmes aimed at creating safer environments for women.

“The need for our services has grown, and yet the expenses often exceed what we would like to offer,” said Cooper, adding that apart from financial support, donations of time, skill and expertise were also urgently needed.


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