Advocacy group Health-e News has created a valuable tool that could prove invaluable to survivors of rape or sexual assault.
Free and available to everyone, it’s an Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) code that you punch into your phone after which it sends you the location of the nearest Thuthuzela Care Centre, hospital, 24-hour clinic and shelter for sexual violence survivors via SMS.
Thuthuzela Care Centres are rape care centres linked to hospitals where survivors can receive counselling and a medical examination after rape.
The code is *134*1994*1#, which readers are urged to save on their phones.
The service comes in five languages (English, Sesotho, Xitsonga, Venda and isiZulu), and you don’t need any airtime or wifi to use it.
The service comes in 5 languagesPHOTO: SCREENGRAB
Health-e also has an online map that people can access for a similar service. You simply type your location into the map and it locates and lists the contact information for places of refuge and assistance for sexual violence survivors across the country.
According to Health-e, this campaign was inspired by a 2017 Doctors Without Borders (MSF) study in Rustenburg, which showed “95% of rape survivors did not go to a health facility after being raped. Only 50% of the women surveyed knew that HIV was preventable after rape and one in five new HIV infections in women and almost one-third of abortions could be attributed to sexual violence.”
Says Kim Harrisberg of Health-e: “We hope to provide survivors with information about services to which they are entitled. The rape statistics in the country are equivalent to that of a conflict zone, and yet women aren’t accessing support that they need. They now are experiencing the trauma twice – when it happens and then when they don’t receive the adequate treatment.”
So remember, *134*1994*1#