Trailblazing South African NGO welcomed as latest PSN Network memberAugust 5, 2015
PSN is proud to announce the Thohoyandou Victim Empowerment Programme (TVEP), an NGO implementing unique programmes combatting sexual and gender based violence, as its latest Network member. This partnership will lead to a greater focus on family planning in TVEP’s work and PSN harnessing TVEP’s on-the-ground expertise improving women’s agency.
A novel South African approach
In rural South Africa sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) is both rife and largely unreported. However TVEP are working to change this. TVEP’s empowerment projects are varied, from its community based “Zero Tolerance Village Alliance” programme combatting SGBV through workshops, support groups and infrastructural changes (such as the development of safe houses for SGBV survivors), to its Trauma Centres providing essential services to survivors of sexual assault. TVEP also undertakes advocacy work holding clinics, the police and government accountable.
TVEP data shows that, upon initial implementation of its projects, reporting of SGBV increases by greater than 500% and that this increased reporting is followed by a subsequent reduction in those crimes. TVEP is one of the largest community-based organisations in southern Africa.
Fiona Nicholson, TVEP’s Programme Director, said, “TVEP focuses on generating community-wide attitudes of zero tolerance towards all forms of sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse and HIV/AIDS stigma, as well as informing communities of their rights relating to those issues. Whilst we work in the sexual and reproductive health and rights arena, with the assistance of PSN we can enhance our programmes to also include additional voluntary family planning actions, further empowering women and giving them choice.”
TVEP is currently implementing an integrated project with existing PSN Network member, the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), in a community adjacent to South Africa’s Kruger National Park. The project, known as Hayi Laa! (meaning “Not here!” in the local Shangaan language), aims to generate community-wide attitudes of zero tolerance towards not only SGBV but also another form of largely unreported rural crime: poaching.
Hayi Laa! is the first time TVEP’s work has been integrated with that of the EWT. As a further project component, TVEP is placing greater focus, with PSN support, on challenging local contraceptive and family planning myths and providing information to the community on healthy timing and spacing of pregnancy.
David Johnson, Chief Executive of PSN, said “TVEP’s innovative programmes demonstrate that substantially greater results are possible when programmes do not merely work with service providers and/or inform women and communities of their rights but also empower those women and communities to exercise those rights – this is ‘agency’. We need to place a greater emphasis on increasing women’s agency and TVEP’s expertise in this field will help PSN when we develop new integrated programmes”.
PSN believes integrated development projects that improve women’s rights, sexual and reproductive health and rights and conservation outcomes can be more impactful than single sector models. PSN is actively working with TVEP and other Network members to establish such further integrated projects.
Hayi Laa! is financially supported by the UK Prosperity Fund, administered by the British High Commission in Pretoria.