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03 June 2005

Factsheet 4 : Clinical services and treatment programmes

Press Release

The book makes two key points regarding the treatment of sexually abused children:

  • A fairly diverse range of clinical services and treatment programmes has been implemented in the region. These range from fairly well-resourced, clinical interventions that provide psychological and medico-legal services, to grass-roots initiatives that aim to empower communities to provide services to sexually abused children and their families themselves.
  • Several different treatment options have been shown to successfully reduce the short- and longer-term effects of child sexual abuse, including treatments that are not resource-intensive. This finding is promising considering that service providers in South Africa and southern Africa usually lack the specialised training and support of multi-disciplinary teams which are considered essential to managing child sexual abuse cases in developed countries.

Four different examples of interventions on behalf of sexually abused children in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique are discussed in the book:

  • The Teddy Bear Clinic, South Africa, has three sites in Gauteng that provide services for sexually abused children and their families from a broad section of the general population. These include physically and mentally disabled children, who are especially vulnerable to abuse and who experience many challenges accessing and utilising the treatment and criminal justice system. These challenges include severe communication deficiencies and disorders.
  • Family Support Trust, Zimbabwe, provides medical and psychosocial treatment services to sexually abused children and their families in three hospital-based clinics in Zimbabwe. Similar to other countries, many abused children know the perpetrator, with relatives making up about one quarter of perpetrators in cases reported to Family Support Trust.
  • Rebuilding Hope, Mozambique, provides a therapeutic programme aimed at helping sexually abused children reintegrate into their rural villages. The sexual abuse of children was a common feature of the Mozambican civil war, and girl children who refused to provide the sexual favours requested by soldiers could be punished by death. Although they lacked the power to resist capture and rape, victims were seen as ?damaged goods? on their return to their communities, and were marginalised and held responsible for their own violation.
  • Baragwanath Soweto Child Abuse Liaison Group, South Africa, is a community-based initiative established in the early 1980s by staff at the Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, South Africa. The groups made up of professional, paraprofessional and lay volunteers, aimed to increase community awareness of child sexual abuse through education, and to provide training, counselling and other outreach activities. At the time the group was established, no professional state services were available to sexually abused children living in Soweto. The group motivated for specialised clinical services that are now provided.

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