Gender Based Violence Project


The objective of this program is to improve service provision and community awareness of services for survivors of sexual assault in South Africa, which struggles with one of the highest rates of gender-based violence in the world.

The Increasing Services for Survivors of Sexual Assault in South Africa (ISSSASA) Programme funded by USAID, is a collaboration of leading South Africa organisations – Foundation for Professional Development, The Soul City Institute, Sonke Gender Justice Network and the South African Medical Research Council. The Government of South Africa’s fight against sexual and gender based violence is spearheaded by the Sexual Offenses and Community Affairs (SOCA) unit of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) within South Africa’s Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. USAID has worked with the NPA/SOCA since 1999 to establish the Thuthuzela Care Centre (TCC) model. TCCs provide a comprehensive portfolio of services to survivors of GBV, including emergency medical care, psychosocial counselling, post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), HIV testing and counselling, and assistance with case reporting and court preparation in an integrated and victim-friendly manner. The TCC model seeks to streamline the care process for GBV survivors by establishing effective linkages between various service providers and government stakeholders, and to improve legal services by reducing time-to-court and increasing the conviction rate.

Highlights of 2015

A customer-driven impact evaluation of USAID/South Africa’s (USAID/SA) Increasing Services for Survivors of Sexual Assault in South Africa (ISSSASA) programme was commissioned under the Democracy, Rights, and Governance – Learning, Evaluation, and Research (DRG-LER) contract. The impact research has been completed drafts of first findings have been released. Qualitative and quantitative data collected at TCCs reveal that TCCs vary in capacity and in resource availability, with differences in days and hours of operation, appearance and quality of facilities, services provided, staffing, record keeping practices, and resources. Through coordination with NGOs and other stakeholders, TCCs are able to fill service gaps that they could not address on their own, and improve the quality of care provided survivors. The baseline women’s survey data confirm anecdotal evidence that many South Africans are not aware of the TCCs. While the women’s survey data reveal generally progressive attitudes toward gender roles and the sexual assault scenarios, there are some areas of concern regarding the right of a woman to deny her husband sex and to condemn rape in all scenarios. The evaluation will test if there is a change in SGBV knowledge and attitudes as a result of the intervention, particularly in areas where concerning attitudes were expressed at baseline. Baseline service provider survey data reveal that many professionals participating in the Integrated Management training intervention had limited exposure to TCCs prior to the training, and harboured some misperceptions about TCCs and the services available, although most believe that TCCs would be helpful in providing support to victims. Moreover, participants exhibited some victim-blaming attitudes.

Soul City Institute

Community dialogues were rolled out in during 2015 in eight provinces in South Africa. The dialogues were focussed on the services of TCCs in the context of GBV and child abuse. The outputs included community action plans that incorporated engagement by participants with the broader community on the issues of GBV and child abuse, as well as a strategy to connect GBV survivors to TCC services. The Soul City Institute works closely with community forums to connect community members through this dialogue process with the TCCs. The targeted stakeholders at these community dialogues are community based organisations, women’s groups, faith based organisations, community leaders, local authorities, youth groups and TCC staff.

Information packages on GBV are available for download. The toolkit is a collection of resources for survivors of sexual assault or gender-based violence and a catalogue of materials useful for programme managers, advocates, clerks of the court, health workers, civil society, South African Police Services and social workers.

Available on

South African Gender-based Violence website up and
running. Available

The Soul Buddyz Club (SBC) Child Abuse Module has been distributed to 16,457 schools nationally. Although the material developed was originally intended for distribution only to Soul Buddyz Clubs (SBC) around TCC’s, Soul City expanded the distribution to all schools. The material has been completed and distributed to ISSSASA partners.

Two Public Service Advertisements (PSAs) have been developed and finalised based on the formative research conducted by the Soul City Institute. One television and one radio PSA was developed for broadcast on SABC TV and community radio stations. The radio PSAs were translated into 11 languages. The PSAs will endeavour to decrease stigmatising norms in the public and to stimulate demand for the TCCs. This will be in the form of social networks on Facebook, Twitter, the webpage and Mxit.

Mxit App

Mxit Reach provides the ideal youth-friendly environment, with users being able to chat to each other, access information they are looking for, ask questions and get specific answers and it’s all as anonymous as you want it to be. 

Act for Children (AFC) is a project of the Soul City Institute, in partnership with a Netherlands-based organisation called Wilde Ganzen (Wild Geese). The project supports children in marginalised schools raise funds for various upliftment projects. The children raise half the necessary funds themselves. SCI matches the amount raised, rand for rand. AFC is run through the Soul Buddyz Club programme. Soul Buddyz Club members identify, plan, budget and fundraise for a project of their choice..


Based on formative research, attractive colour posters were developed in the 11 official languages and were distributed during the community dialogues and training.

Sonke Gender Justice Network 

Radio show guides were developed for stations and include a focus on the inter-linkages between gender and HIV.

Sonke’s interventions on local radio have been launched with the radio dramas with the theme of GBV and information of the purpose of TCCs, their services and locations. The drama is available in 4 languages: English, Tshivenda, IsiZulu and Sesotho and all the material is available free of charge on thuthuzeleka. Sonke trained community radio stations’ staff on GBV..

Community dialogues were rolled out in during 2015 in eight provinces in South Africa. Sonke’s interventions focused on men and boys and brought males together to engage on the services of TCCs in the context of GBV and child abuse.

Foundation for Professional Development

Four new Thuthuzela Care Centres were established and furnished, namely Madadeni (Kwa-Zulu Natal), King Williams Town (Eastern Cape), Atlantis (Western Cape), Groblersdal (Limpopo) in consultation with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). The staff members for all the sites have been appointed in consultation with the NPA and the four new TCCs are now fully functional. 

Example of a new TCC

Small NGO grants

Using its nationwide financial and administrative capacity, FPD supports the NPA in the disbursement of grants to NGO service providers. This enables after-hour access to comprehensive services such as psychosocial support and counselling; trauma counselling; HIV/ AIDS voluntary counselling and testing; psychosocial counselling for child victims; and legal assistance. LifeLine (Pietermarizburg) in Madadeni, ChildLine (Limpopo) in Groblersdal, MOSAIC in Atlantis, and Masimanyane in King Williamstown are delivering the after-hour services at the TCCs.

Referral systems have be strengthened by making FPD’s provincial service directories available to TCCs, NGO partners and district government offices in TCC catchments. 

Capacity building

The Interdisciplinary Integrated Management of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (IMSGBV) training curriculum is aimed at improving the knowledge, practice and changing the attitudes towards survivors of sexual assault. The curriculum aims at reinforcing the continuum of care for survivors of sexual assault; enhancing the role of TCC Case Managers; instilling norms and standards for gender equality; and child protection across the continuum of care. The training focussed on the police precincts of the catchment areas of the TCCs: 

Training of trainer refresher course

A training of trainer refresher course for trainers of GBV were held to guide them and provide them with tools and updated information to advancing gender equality, and preventing and responding to genderbased violence. 

South African Medical Research Council (MRC)

A national study of the prosecution and adjudication of sexual assault cases will be conducted by the MRC over the duration of the ISSSA Project. 

The goal of the study is to generate evidence-based recommendations for strengthening the prosecution and adjudication of sexual assault cases. The specific aim of the project is to describe and analyse the causes of sexual assault case attrition in criminal justice system nationally, including explaining closure of cases by the police, withdrawals of cases from court and acquittals in court. 


Data Collection: The sources of information examined include, but not be limited to, SAPS case dockets, J88s, charge sheets, court administrative records and trial transcripts. The MRC is using a multi-stage sampling strategy that will enable a national representative sample of police station dockets to be drawn. The primary sampling unit used is police clusters. In selected clusters a random sample of sexual assault dockets for the calendar year 2010 are drawn from each police station. The samples are stratified by province. The cases are being followed through the criminal justice system with data collected at each stage. 

Previous research by the MRC and collaborators, a study known as ‘Tracking Justice’, showed that in Gauteng among 100 opened police cases, 45 are closed by the police, 38 withdrawn in court and 17 went to trial and 9 resulted in acquittal. These proportions were used to guide the sampling strategy. The MRC aims to collect data from about 4,500 dockets and it is anticipated about 630 of these will go to trial. Data is extracted from all the sources of information on pro forma data capture sheets, which are adapted from the ones used in the ‘Tracking Justice’ study.

Data Analysis: The data will be analysed by the MRC and will draw on epidemiological data analysis methodology. Descriptive statistics will be presented. There will be a further statistical analysis of factors associated with withdrawal at different stages and acquittal in court using multiple regression and latent variable modelling methods. In addition, the judgements will be subject to qualitative analysis focusing in particular on remarks about the preparation of cases, the availability and interpretation of medical evidence and the interpretation of the sexual offences legislation. 

Stakeholder Engagements: The national study is led by the MRC supported by collaborating partners and a stakeholder group comprising members of: SAPS, NPA and the Department of Justice. To date, the stakeholder group has shaped the focus of the study and methodology, assisted in gaining access to police dockets and the courts. Moving forward MRC expects the stakeholders to review research instruments, provide input into the interpretation of findings and to advise on the development of recommendations for interventions based on the study findings. 


In 2015, the MRC undertook and completed collection of data from police dockets in cases with 3990 victims. MRC also commenced the tracking and collection of trial transcripts from respective courts which is still ongoing. Other data collected is the medical examination forms which are being assessed by a team of medical experts for quality assurance. A qualitative study focusing on prosecutorial decision making has received ethical approval and is also underway. The MRC has also started analysing data from the first phases of the research. 

Other Complimentary Activities

FPD printed colourful posters that popularise the services of the TCCs, and distributed 66,000 to hospitals, schools and police stations.

 FPD updated, printed and distributed the TCC information booklet.