Monday 22 September 2014
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RAPE survivors may soon face further dejection as a leading rape counselling centre trims down on staff.

Several staff members from the Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust will be unemployed by the end of this month.

They have however pledged to continue with their services as volunteers, for as long as possible.

The retrenchment of 12 staff members at the organisation’s three counselling centres is the result of a number of factors, Kathleen Dey, the director of Rape Crisis, explains.

“Over the last two years we have been experiencing difficulty with fundraising,” she says.

“The government has decreased our funding by more than a third and the global economic recession has made other avenues hard to follow.”

The centres, situated in Athlone, Khayelitsha and Observatory, will see the staff volunteering to “different degrees” depending on their situation.

“Some will be volunteering part-time and others full-time. We will continue in this manner hoping that the organisation will stabilise.”

Rape Crisis will also be downsizing their operation costs by 70%.

Two of their three 24-hour crisis lines will be closed and instead one centralised line will be used.

Some of the 24-hour services will also be reduced to 12-hours.

Nazma Hendricks, the operations manager of Rape Crisis, is one of the staff members who is being retrenched.

She says for the public to lose this kind of service is going to take everything “a few steps back”. “Our aim is to improve services for rape survivors. We empower them by ensuring that someone is with them every step of the way whether it be in court or at a medical facility,” says Hendricks.

“I worry that a restriction in our services will result in less rape survivors coming forward and speaking out.”

Based at the Grassroots Educare Centre in Klipfontein Road, Hendricks says the office is one of the busiest because of its location.

“On average we receive 15 new patients monthly and have about 50 counselling sessions with older patients,” she says.

Despite the organisation’s dismal forecast, Hendricks says the dedication of staff and volunteers is commendable.

“These are people who have a passion to help others and it is this passion which drives them to continue without payment,” she says.

A rape survivor, who wishes to remain anonymous, says it would be a “great loss” if Rape Crisis ever had to close down.

“Words cannot express how much I have been helped by this place. It was my safe haven for more than five years and I don’t know what I would have done without it,” she says.

Referred to the centre by her doctor, she says when she first arrived she was made to feel safe and comfortable by the staff.

“I became an introvert after my incident but through one-on-one counselling I felt safe enough to speak about what happened to me. I eventually joined the group counselling sessions and it was wonderful. I realised I was not alone,” she says.

Considering the cost of counselling, she says she cannot begin to imagine how much all her sessions cost.

“I would never have been able to afford it if I hadn't received it at the centre. I was very fortunate to get it for free. It changed my outlook on life and today I am a better person because of it.

“I don’t think people understand how many distressed women are in need of this place. I know because I was one of them.”

Donors wishing to make enquiries about the organisation and its projects can contact Dey at kath@rapecrisis.org.za.

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