I am pleased to be able to offer readers an eclectic collection of articles on topical issues with which to end the year.
While readers of medical journals may already be familiar with the concept of obstetric violence, it is not a subject that has made its way into discussions about violence in South Africa.
In her article Camilla Pickles argues that it is time to address the violence women often experience at the hands of health professionals while giving birth, and thereafter. She argues that the impact of this form of violence on mother and infant is such that it should be criminalised.
Whether or not criminalising obstetric violence is indeed the most effective way to counter the problem may be debatable, but there can be little doubt that this has been a significant omission from the discourse around gender-based violence. I hope this article will increase the visibility of the issue and stimulate debate.
The March 2015 edition of SACQ was a special edition that focused on the prevention of violence through evidence-based primary interventions, such as those that improve positive parenting. In this edition Inge Wessels and Cathy Ward present a model for assessing the extent to which parenting programmes incorporate, or are based on, evidence. We hope this will be a useful tool both for NGOs that seek to implement parenting programmes and the state and non-state donors that support them.
The case note in this edition, provided by Carina du Toit and Zita Hansungule from the Centre for Child Law at the University of Pretoria, continues the child-centred theme by providing an analysis of judgements relating to the sentencing of children who turn 18 before they are sentenced, but who had committed the crimes in question while still a child (under the age of 18). The note centres on a Western Cape High Court judgement that found that such child offenders should be sentenced as children, and not as adults. This is an important and progressive precedent for upholding and protecting the rights of children.
In her article, Hema Hargovan draws on her vast experience of the practice of restorative justice in South Africa to offer a sobering assessment of the use of victim/offender dialogues as a factor in assessing offenders for parole. She argues that not enough is being done to safeguard the rights of victims.
Gwen Dereymaeker’s article draws attention to the massive civil claims against the South African Police Service (SAPS). She provides an overview of the civil claims against the SAPS between 2007/8 and the current financial year, and navigates the complexity of claims versus settlements made by the police. She carefully assesses the potential drivers of civil claims and argues that unlawful police behaviour, particularly the use of violence by the police, along with an apparent lack of faith in the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, has an impact on these claims – which at the time of writing stood at well over R9 billion just for the current financial year.
Finally, Simon Howell and his colleagues from the Medical Research Council and the University of Cape Town contribute an article that presents select findings from a study to determine the change over time in the price of illegal drugs in Cape Town. While the study does not offer significant new insights into the illicit drug market, it does provide a basis for assessing price fluctuations in the future and thus an ability to assess market demand.
I hope you enjoy the read.
Chandré Gould (Editor)
- Eliminating abusive ‘care’: A criminal law response to obstetric violence in South Africa
- A ‘best buy’ for violence prevention: Evaluating parenting skills programmes
Inge Wessels and Catherine L Ward
- Making sense of the numbers: Civil claims against the SAPS
- The wrong type of decline: Fluctuations in price and value of illegal substances in Cape Town
Simon Howell, Nadine Harker-Burnhams, Loraine Townsend and Mark Shaw
Commentary and analysis:
- Violence, victimisation and parole: Reconciling restorative justice and victim participation
- S v SN unreported, case no. 141114/14 (wCC): Sentencing child offenders after they turn 18
Carina du Toit and Zita Hansungule