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GRIP: Rape Intervention Project in South Africa

Sanette Mattheus
Business Manager
GRIP Intervention Programme
46 Anderson Road
PO Box 12197
Nelspruit, 1200, SA

GRIP, Greater Rape Intervention Program, a nonprofit organization, was established in 2000 in response to the high levels of rape and the concordant high levels of HIV/AIDS infection transferred to predominantly child rape survivors. GRIP was initiated by volunteers and offers services to all rape and domestic violence survivors.  GRIP seeks to empower all women, men and children through the process of counselling & testing, preventative and legal education, post-traumatic assistance, advocacy and lobbying.  GRIP’s mandate is to seek both pre- and post-trauma interventions with a spectrum of role players, including government departments, schools, traditional healers, other NGO’s and the business community. GRIP has a five-year plan to expand its financed interventions to other areas and to contract with government stakeholders to ensure sustainability. The head office of GRIP is currently based in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, and has branches in Masoyi, Kabokweni, KaNyamazane, Barberton, Lydenburg, Tonga/Shongwe, White River, Matzulu areas as well as Malelane.

Magnitude of the Problem

One person is raped every 26 seconds (South African Statistics, 1999). One out of every four people raped will be a young girl between the ages of 11 and 15. More than 75% of raped girls will end up in prostitution, have multiple sexual partners and repeat the cycle of violence. One out of every four women is in an abusive relationship and a woman is killed every five days by her intimate partner in Mpumalanga. This means that in any one year that two million people are raped in South Africa. Sadly, only 50,000 rape victims report their victimization and only 4000 convictions are secured through the Criminal Justice System annually (South African Police Services, 2002). This low conviction rate is a result of the lack of understanding and sensitivity to rape survivors by the criminal justice system personnel. Poor training and lack of medical personnel, police, prosecutors and social workers compound the problem.

“… in any one year … two million people are raped in South Africa.”

An added dynamic to this is the contraction of HIV/AIDS as a direct result of rape. Recent South African statistics show that there are at least 1700 HIV contractions daily. The most affected age group is 11 to 25 years old. This age group is also alleged to perpetrate more rapes in any one year. Concurrent to this pandemic, there has also been a 48% increase in child rape over the last two years (South African Safety and Security Statistics, 2006). GRIP believes that the increase in gang and child rape is due to the continued belief in an old urban myth that sleeping with a virgin cures HIV/AIDS and other inherent and historical vulnerabilities that make women, men and especially children vulnerable and at risk to contract HIV/AIDS.


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For more information contact:

GRIP Intervention Programme
46 Anderson Road
PO Box 12197
Nelspruit, 1200, SA

Broad Aims of GRIP

  • To reduce violence against women, men and children through the process of research, lobbying, advocacy and education
  • Through our education and public awareness projects, we aim to reach boys and teachers in particular with education regarding gender sensitivity, HIV/AIDS knowledge and entrepreneurial life skills
  • To empower all survivors of abuse through the process of medical and psychological care including traditional healers and legal support
  • To facilitate HIV testing and counselling for the access to post-exposure prophylaxis
  • To offer free and voluntary HIV testing
  • To continue lobbying through networks and other organisations including government stakeholders and contract out our programmes by the year 2007 to ensure financial sustainability

Overview of Activities

Although abuse of women, men and children happens across all sectors of society, our target is mostly communities with limited or no resources at all. Nearly all (97%) of our beneficiaries are disadvantaged females from underserved communities. These areas historically have had poor infrastructure, such as no street lighting, unsafe public transport areas and minimal police protection. This, in turn, encourages the increase in violent crimes. These communities are also characterised by limited employment opportunities, overcrowding, and lack of educational facilities and extensive HIV/AIDS related issues and alcoholism. All these factors impact strongly on violence. Current activities include:

  • Educational seminars at schools and a year-long, life skills empowerment programme at three schools in Kabokweni to teach children how to say no and make informed choices
  • GRIP staff are on-duty, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at medical institutions where forensic examinations are conducted to provide counselling, toiletries, and other assistance to victims
  • Funding antiretroviral therapy to prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS
  • Follow-up visits to survivors at regular intervals (i.e. 4 days after the rape, 1 month, 3 months and 6 months) to offer counselling, HIV/AIDS finger prick tests, and monitor the social circumstances that contributed towards sexual assault
  • Legal teams at three sites to provide a wide range of assistance including pre-court training to survivors and caregivers, a “Friend of the Court” who acts as a link between the judicial system and the survivor and caregivers, and advocacy for survivors’ judicial rights. Meals are provided to all witnesses at court, and a well-equipped private waiting room has been established
  • Working with traditional healers in an attempt to combine western and traditional interventions with regard to prevention of HIV/AIDS, treatment and counselling

GRIP provides a forum for healing after crime and the trauma of abuse while also building community spirit through teamwork and local volunteers. Each community has their own needs and thus community members are better equipped to help each other than outside volunteers. By each community having their own centre we feel confident that they will give crime abuse victims a voice and help. Our vision is that GRIP will serve as a role model for the country to use as an example of community cooperation.

Family Violence Prevention Fund Health eJournal

ISSN 1556-4827
Copyright © 2006 Family Violence Prevention Fund
All rights reserved