Traditional Leaders' Response to Sexual and Gender-based Violence in South Africa
Population Council researchers are further investigating the potential of traditional leaders in South African communities to advocate for and initiate prevention and management interventions for victims of sexual and gender-based violence.
Traditional leaders are influential in southern African rural communities. Acting as "custodians of African culture," traditional leaders play a key role in advocating for community health initiatives. They preside over customary law courts and reach communities through imbizos/lekgotlas, or community dialogues. South Africa's National House of Traditional Leaders has members in nine provinces in South Africa; it is the officially recognized organization of traditional leaders in the country. While traditional leaders are key partners in HIV and AIDS interventions, they are an untapped resource for advocacy regarding sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) service interventions. In order to strengthen community-based initiatives and to understand the potential role of traditional leaders 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, on the need for a multisectoral approach to SGBV, and the potential for strong advocacy from traditional leaders on prevention and management of SGBV.
From these workshops, researchers highlighted a number of important lessons learned and recommendations for further action:
- Strengthening traditional court systems that deal with SGBV at the community level;
- Enlisting the support of female traditional leaders on SGBV prevention and support for young girls;
- Linking traditional leaders with the justice system, police, health, and farming communities and improving monitoring and SGBV programming quality;
- Strengthening relationships between traditional leaders and local governments;
- Improving access to information (IEC) in the community;
- Documenting best practices; and
- Strengthening the ability of traditional leaders to respond to community needs regarding addressing SGBV.
The role of traditional leaders in preventing and addressing sexual and gender-based violence: Findings from KwaZulu-Natal, Northwest and Limpopo provinces in South Africa (PDF)
Teffo-Menziwa,Mantshi; Mullick,Saiqa; Dlamini,Prince Cedza
Publication date: 2010
Location: South Africa
Sexual and gender-based violence
Duration: 5/2009 - 2/2010
Population Council researchers: