Training modules for the SAPRI System have been developed particularly for Community Respondents, but are relevant as stand-alone courses as well. The training has been professionally filmed and work-books, examination and certificate developed.
The modules are:
- Understanding the Rape Response Protocol Initiative (poster & booklet)
- Counselling a Rape Survivor
- Rape Specific First Aid
- South African Court Procedures
- The Rights of a Victim
- SAPRI Systems
For Community Respondents the examination pass rate is 60 % and upon graduation, graduates may be apply for a position as Community Respondent. Depending on budget constraints, Community Respondents may receive a stipend and are equipped with an identification card, cell-phone, uniform, torch and umbrella.
Depending on the size of the community and the number of panic buttons deployed, a given number of Community Respondents operate in a specific area and the team of respondents is coordinated by a trained Social Worker. An office, or centre within the community serves victims, offers counselling, conducts support group sessions and other prevention activities (self-defence classes etc.) and houses the hard-ware of the Panic Button System and record-keeping of the cases.
The role of trained community respondents in the Panic Button initiative
Personal Protection devices (panic buttons) are deployed to households in a specific area. The button is specific to the location of the home (or room etc.) where it is installed, or kept. Geo-located buttons that are carried on the person, although available, are not practical for this application, as the means to respond to a victim outside of his/her home, are not available. When activated, the system registers the home-address where an incident is taking place.
A trial was conducted in the Alaska Informal Settlement, Mamelodi East, Gauteng. 200 buttons were deployed in January 2015 and 10 trained Respondents including a Social Worker appointed, to support the system. Community training and an activism campaign was launched with community forum meetings, posters, door-to-door visitation and bill-boards. The shack-homes in this community are very close to each other, effectively increasing the reach of a single button to 5 or more neighbouring households.
From April 2015 to December 2016 the cases of sexual- and domestic violence were dramatically reduced. Only 1 rape case (in a household without button, but whose neighbours activated the alarm) and 1 attempted rape case (likewise in a household without button) and 6 cases of domestic violence were recorded in the community. In the absence of historic data, the results can only be compared to National Statistics and by the testimony of the beneficiaries. The community estimates that up to 10 rapes took place per month in the area and that up to 50 % of all households were affected by domestic violence. National statistics for a densely populated area of high-risk demographic, such as an informal settlements with a high population of women and girls, likewise project much higher levels of rape and domestic violence than was recorded in the period.
By the testimony of the community and citizens’ extremely high levels of satisfaction with the programme, their buy-in to the initiative and the SAPRI office as counselling facility and go-to service hub, as well as the few recorded cases, the initiative can be said to have a dramatic effect on the prevention of sexual violence in the area.
Lessons learnt and challenges that arise, form part of the ongoing Action Research approach of the monitoring and evaluation of the project.
How the SAPRI System works – The 10 Steps
- The clients (beneficiaries): 200 households in a high risk area, are equipped with panic button pendants. The pendant can be worn, or kept in the house/shack/room in a place that is easily accessible.
- The clients receive a sticker for their home, which warns possible intruders that they are able to call for help if they are attacked.
- The community is empowered with information in the form of posters, brochures and bill-boards, which will also serve to inform would-be perpetrators that there is a community response system in place that makes use of panic buttons.
- The pendants are linked to a response system. When in danger of sexual violence, the client will engage the panic button.
- An SMS will automatically be sent to a selection of pre-informed responders e.g. the Police, Viva Community Respondent, Social Worker, Community Leaders and Street Committee members.
- The Viva SAPRI Operator has an internet-connected phone, computer, or tablet with him/her and will be able to identify which button was pressed, where the client is and who her nearest community responder is.
- The SAPRI Operator will follow up the SMS with phone calls to the police – informing them that a client is in danger. He/she will call the nearest community responder and send them to the house of the client. He/she will also phone the client and confirm the emergency.
- The police and the community responder will be deployed. The community responder will be first on the scene and warn the perpetrator (from the street in front of the house) that the police are on the way and he must immediately stop the attack. (In the case of sexual violence perpetrated against a woman, there is an anticipated level of cowardice and it is likewise anticipated that a perpetrator will stop and/or run away when confronted.) The aim is to prevent and/or stop the attack. In the case of escalation (a violence perpetrator/kidnap situation etc.) the community responder will be trained to STAND DOWN, but the situation is already an improvement on the norm, due to the fact that the police and trained responders are on their way.
- The Viva Rape Response Community Care Worker will follow up with the client and part of the agreement is that when she activates the panic alarm, the process will lead to a report at the police station. Clients will not have the option to report, or not. A case will be opened and the Viva Rape Response Community Care Worker will assist her through the process and facilitate after-care.
- The Viva Rape Response Community Care Worker is trained in different response disciplines, namely “Counselling a Rape Victim”, “Rape Response Protocol – from incident to guilty verdict”, “Rape Specific First Aid”, “Court Procedures” and “The rights of a victim”. The details of the incident will be captured on the data-base and a case management procedure will be initiated.