XVIII International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2010)
18–23 July 2010
"Traditional leaders response to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in South Africa"
Mantshi Teffo-Menziwa, Saiqa Mullick, and C. Dlamini
Traditional leaders (TLs) are influential in Southern African rural communities. "Custodians of African culture," TLs play a key role in advocating for HIV and AIDS and SGBV initiatives. They preside over customary law courts and reach communities through "imbizos/lekgotlas" or community dialogues. National Houses of Traditional Leaders exist in nine provinces in South Africa and are the officially recognized representation. TLs are key partners in HIV and AIDS interventions but untapped in terms of SGBV. In order to strengthen community-based initiatives and to understand the potential role of TLs in the prevention of SGBV, a series of workshops was held in three provinces.
The workshops were conducted in rural areas with high SGBV and HIV prevalence in KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, and North West provinces. Workshops provided information on the state of SGBV in individual provinces and the need for a multisectoral approach and TL role in SGBV prevention and management.
- TLs are uninformed of SGBV epidemic drivers.
- Female TLs remain untapped resources to expand services for young girls.
- TLs are not linked to the justice system and police to deal with survivors and perpetrators.
- TLs do not have guidelines, culturally specific training curricula, and information on SGBV.
- Traditional courts play a limited role in adjudicating SGBV cases.
Recommendations call for: strengthening traditional court systems in SGBV; supporting female TLs in creating "an enabling environment" for young girls; linking TLs with the justice system, police, and medical services; improving SGBV monitoring; documenting best practices; and strengthening capacity building for TLs and their institutions.
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