Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children
The Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children (SBC) was established in May 1999 as the first one-stop centre in the country for women, youth and children who have experienced domestic and/or sexual violence in their lives. The SBC’s purpose is to offer an integrated range of services on a continuum of care, to reduce secondary traumatisation of the survivors and facilitate a recovery and healing process through the provision of high quality comprehensive services. To achieve this, the SBC works in partnership with non-profit organisations and government departments to provide this range of services.
The services include a 24-hour crisis response, residential facility for abused women and their children, specialised counselling services, life and job skills training, HIV/AIDS education, legal advice and assistance, training, research, advocacy, and education and prevention projects in surrounding communities and schools. The SBC also co-ordinates the five on-site organisations working in partnership with SBC.
The SBC is situated in Manenberg on the Cape Flats, an area with extremely high rates of crime, gangsterism, domestic violence, child abuse, unemployment and substance abuse. Some shocking statistics in South Africa include a child being raped every three minutes, a woman being killed every six hours by an intimate partner, 29% of pregnant women living with HIV/AIDS, and one in four men admitting to having committed rape by the age of eighteen.
The escalation in violence is reflected by an average increase of 65% in the number of women, youth and children accessing the SBC’s services in the past two years. The SBC assists, on average, 600 people per month. There are few resources available in Manenberg and surrounding areas and as a result the SBC provides services to a wide range of constituencies: neighbouring townships, farming communities, and informal settlements. The residential facility also assists trafficked women from other countries.
We also focus greatly on replicating the one-stop centre model and in 2008 opened a shelter in a nearby rural area, Worcester. The SBC is often called upon to assist others in starting similar centres, such as helping the Department of Social Development to start a shelter in Vredendal in the Western Cape Province.