Gauteng’s abused children under the spotlight

Women and Men Against Child Abuse (WMACA), an organisation that helps abused children who are victims of abuse by providing a basket of services including medical and therapeutic treatment as well as court preparation, has won R35 000 in a national campaign to bring attention to concerns committed to fighting women and child abuse.

The Randburg-based non-profit organisation, founded in 1997, operates five ‘Kidz Clinics’ in Alexandra, Boksburg, Duduza, Orange Farm and Pretoria. These one-stop child-friendly centres provide free medical and psychological treatment for children who’ve been sexually, physically and/or emotionally violated. They also have replicas of a real-life courtroom, where specially trained officers introduce children who are required to testify against their perpetrators in court, to the legal system.

Because there’s a lack of facilities in Gauteng, the Kidz Clinics serve not only the five areas in which they’re located, but also those as far afield as Benoni, Brakpan and Midrand, with the Kathorus Child Protection Unit referring cases from Tembisa, Vosloorus, Katlehong and Heidelberg. Children from Soweto, Sebokeng and Vereeniging are referred to the Orange Farm clinic.

“We make a huge difference in the communities where we provide these services,” says Kevin Barbeau, executive director for WMACA. “The grant will go a long way to help us fight child abuse.”

Although about 160 000 rapes are committed every year against children under the age of 18, South African Police Services (SAPS) Child Protection Units estimate that only one in 15 is reported. The good news is that WMACA and its Kidz Clinics are seeing an increasing number of children referred to its facilities by SAPS, child welfare societies, the Department of Education, children’s homes, schools and individual community members, which indicates that the wall of silence surrounding the abuse of children is beginning to come down.

WMACA was nominated in October by Gauteng resident Sharon du Rand, whose sister was a victim of abuse and was helped by the organisation. WMACA is the third winner in the monthly Vital Awards campaign, which elicits support from health-conscious South Africans from all over the country. For every Vital Health Foods supplement pack sold, R1 is donated to organisations that fight abuse.

The public is invited to nominate organisations they feel are making a tangible difference in this area. The monthly winner, chosen by the Awards’ panel members, receives R35 000 and is entered into a draw to get a Samsung prize.

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