Provision of free legal advice
TLAC provides free legal advice to clients on domestic violence, rape, maintenance and family law related matters. Clients can contact TLAC via telephone, email and face to face consultations at its Braamfontein offices. Through its legal advice TLAC attempts to identify and address barriers to women’s access to services, particularly at courts and police stations. TLAC can be contacted at 011 403 4267 (Braamfontein) or e-mail
Public interest litigation
TLAC has intervened as amicus curiae in criminal and civil cases where necessary to raise legal issues relating to violence against women. TLAC works closely with Webber Wentzel Bowens’ pro-bono department to assist clients in public interest litigation matters.
Capacity building of community-based organisations on gender-based violence
One of the objectives of the Legal Services Unit is to develop the capacity of local organisations to provide legal information and support to clients relating to gender based violence, maintenance and family law. It is hoped that this strategy will increase local levels of knowledge about the law and how it can be used to protect and advance the rights of women, and will also lead to increased access to justice for individual women in those communities.
“Shukumisa” means to stir and shake up – which is what the Campaign intends do. Shukumisa will stir and shake up social attitudes to sexual violence and the treatment of survivors in their encounters with state services throughout the criminal justice process. The Campaign was developed by the National Working Group on Sexual Offences, a network of 26 civil society organisations from around South Africa in 2003 to ensure that effective and appropriate laws around sexual offences were passed. The Campaign will undertake the following key actions:
- Build organisations, local communities’ and the public’s capacity to monitor and hold government to account for the implementation of law and policy related to sexual violence.
- Undertake monitoring and research to examine the implementation of relevant law, the courts, health services and police responses to sexual violence.
- Hold the state accountable for it’s failure to fulfil its constitutional and legal obligations to survivors
- Inform the further development of law and policy, along with other interventions combating sexual violence to correct defects in the system.
- Create materials and training programmes that inform people of available services and the rights of survivors.
Implementation of the Domestic Violence Act
TLAC’s Research Unit is currently conducting research to evaluate the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act in various provinces. For more information contact Lisa Vetten, email@example.com
Women’s use of services in response to gender-based violence
TLAC’s Research Unit is currently conducting a study to assess women’s use of services after experiencing gender-based violence. For more information contact Lisa Vetten, In 2006 TLAC convened a roundtable meeting of a broad range of organisations working in the gender-based violence and HIV/AIDS sectors. TLAC has since been involved in highlighting the intersections between HIV/AIDS and gender-based violence in various fora. TLAC has also written various submissions on the provision of post-exposure prophylaxis to rape survivors.
Housing needs for abused women
TLAC has conducted research and engaged in advocacy on developing a strategy to address the housing rights and needs of women in vulnerable situations, particularly looking at abused women’s right to housing and shelter. For more information contact Lisa Vetten, firstname.lastname@example.org
Women who kill their abusive partners
TLAC has worked with a group of women imprisoned for killing their abusive partners. These women are currently serving lengthy jail sentences and TLAC assisted them to apply for parole and prepare for the parole hearings. TLAC has worked closely with Moray Hathorn from the Pro Bono Department at Webber Wentzel Bowens to secure the release of these women.
The aim of the Refentse study is to develop a model for delivery of a high quality, integrated rape care service that would incorporate the introduction of PEP. Phase 1 focused on improving the sexual assault services offered at a rural public sector hospital. The study was conducted in Tintswalo Hospital in Acornhoek, Mpumalanga. Phase 1 was managed by Rural AIDS Development and Research (RADAR).
A key conclusion of phase 1 was that there was a lack of confidence in the criminal justice system and that this could discourage rape survivors from seeking medical care or reporting to the police. Phase 2 of the Refentse project accordingly sought to address this lack of confidence by inserting a justice component into the existing health services model. TLAC was the implementing partner for this phase.
The project has the following specific objectives:
- To develop and introduce a strengthened sexual violence referral system between the health sector and the criminal justice sector, including the provision of legal services and psycho-social counselling
- To assess the uptake of these expanded services and their impact on utilisation of hospital post-rape services, including VCT and PEP
- To conduct exploratory research focusing on domestic violence in order to determine the health and legal services women currently use and what services they value
- Identify gaps and opportunities for strengthening a multi-sectoral response to domestic violence.
Tracking Justice Project
This study was undertaken in partnership with the Medical Research Council and the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation and tracked the progress of 2064 rape cases through the criminal justice system. Lisa Vetten was the principal investigator on the study.
The objectives of this project, one of the biggest of its kind to date, are to:
- Describe the processing of rape and indecent assault cases by the police and the courts at selected courts and police stations in Gauteng province
- Describe the application of the rules of evidence and procedure in trials involving sexual offences
- Identify factors associated with withdrawals, convictions and acquittals
- Investigate the effectiveness of specialist sexual offences courts and identify those factors (if any) that contribute to their greater conviction rate
- Develop indicators for monitoring the performance of police and court personnel in relation to sexual offences.