Bring back sexual offences courts says advocacy group

Allison Tilley, head of advocacy and special projects at the Open Democracy Advice Centre, talks to Rebecca Davis, standing in for John Maytham, about the importance of bringing back specialised sexual offences courts to deal with rape cases.

If you have a specialised sexual offences court, which they are starting to look at now, you have a separate waiting room for the survivor, for the survivor's family and for witnesses who are going to testify for the survivor. Because you don't want to be facing those people supporting the accused.

Allison Tilley, head of advocacy and special projects at the Open Democracy Advice Centre

Tilley says it is not uncommon for rape survivors to have to deal with the people supporting the alleged rapist. She says at the time of Jacob Zuma's rape trial, people thought it was "strange and unusual" to see such support for the accused, but she says it is not out of the ordinary.

It is fairly common for an accused to have vocal and prominent support in both the court room and out in the community.

she says it is useful to look back at what happened in past cases and learn what could be done differently.

History is never over.

Allison Tilley, head of advocacy and special projects at the Open Democracy Advice Centre

Tilley says the establishment of these sexual offences courts need specialised personnel, structures and support.

You need prosecutors, magistrates that know what they are doing and understand post traumatic stress disorder, and who can deal with intermediaries when there are kids involved.

Allison Tilley, head of advocacy and special projects at the Open Democracy Advice Centre

She says there are 276 courts in South Africa which deal with sexual offences matters, of which about 43 specialise in sexual offences cases.

The implementation of these courts requires cross departmental co-operation, and there is a model in place that can be followed. She says legislation is required to get things going. But she says, with the right impetus, these courts could come into effect within the next ten years.

Listen to the interview below:

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