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'Invisible or invincible? Voices of queer African youth

At present, the lived realities and experiences of LGBTI young people in African contexts are not well documented. Most research and popular media about LGBTI people does not hone in on the particularity of young LGBTI lives, and  at the same time, mainstream discourses in African countries tend to portray LGBTI people as ‘deviant’, ‘un-African’ and mentally ill.
This project works with LGBTI youth in three African countries to explore their own experiences, intersecting identities, and visions for the future. Through creative exploration of these topics, LGBTI young people will develop and articulate their own understanding of themselves and their identities. In the process they will co-create accessible research outputs that reflect affirming, context-relevant images of sexual and gender diversity, aimed at other LGBTI youth and the wider public. Such materials will be greatly beneficial for other young LGBTI people, but also for wider advocacy efforts by community-based and regional organisations.

Principle investigator: A Muller (Gender, Health & Justice Research Unit)

Funder: Ford Foundation

Improving Case Outcomes for Gender-Based Violence in Sexual Offences Courts

This project seeks to identify evidence-based best practices to improving the functioning of pilot Sexual Offences Courts in three South African provinces, and provide justice sector officials in the pilot courts and catchment areas with the necessary knowledge, skills and sensitivity for improving justice services to sexual offenses survivors in the pilot Sexual Offences Courts. A particular focus will be on justice service provision for vulnerable groups (sexual and gender minority people, youth, people living in poverty). Overall, this projects aims to strengthen the capacity of the pilot Sexual Offences Courts and all justice officials within the court, in order to improve case outcomes of sexual offences cases, including sentencing and judgment.

Partners: Gender, Health & Justice Research Unit (L Artz, A Heath, A Muller); and NACOSA (M De Vos, L Baerecke).

Region:  South Africa

Sexual and other forms of gender-based violence and HIV in KwaZulu-Natal: A facility-based cross-sectional study

There is ample South African and international literature that reinforces the veracity of the claim that violence against women is a key risk factor in HIV transmission. There is also a prominent emphasis in this literature on the notion that the provision of services to victims of sexual and other forms of gender- based violence should be closely aligned with HIV prevention or VCT services, and vice versa. However, to date, there is no evidence of regular, systematic screening for all forms of SGBV at VCT clinics, no existing comprehensive screening tool, and South Africa does not have any prevalence rates of SGBV amongst women seeking VCT services. This facility-based cross-sectional study on SGBV and HIV examines the prevalence and nature of intimate partner violence and non-intimate-partner sexual violence amongst women who have recently initiated or are currently receiving treatment for HIV at a primary care clinic in Umlazi, KZN. It will involve a clinic-based survey and the development of the first comprehensive screening protocol for SGBV in HIV-service settings in South Africa.

Partners: Gender, Health & Justice Research Unit (L Artz, A Muller) & AIDS Healthcare Foundation (L Klazinga, B Mhlongo).

Region:  South Africa (KwaZulu-Natal)

Evidence for sexual and gender minority health in 12 African countries: Piloting a participatory, community-based research project

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people are at increased risk for ill health, due to social exclusion and violence based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. Health care for LGBTI people is less than adequate in all African countries. However, there is still a paucity of data on LGBTI health needs in these countries. This is particularly problematic given the importance of data as evidence base for advocacy, programmatic interventions and strategic planning. This project, in partnership with 32 community-based organisations in 12 countries and COC Netherlands, employs a participatory research method to investigate key LGBTI health concerns around mental health, stigma and violence.

Partners: Gender, Health & Justice Research Unit (A Muller, K Daskilewicz), the Southern and East African LGBTI Health Network, COC Netherlands (O Odumosu, B Langen).

Region: Angola, Botswana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Designing Trans-community led HIV testing, counselling and treatment programmes suitable for the needs of Trans populations in South Africa

A myriad of reasons contribute to the socio-economic circumstances of transgender and gender nonconforming persons which increase their vulnerability to HIV, STIs and TB. This collaborative project aims to investigate barriers and facilitators experienced by transgender and gender nonconforming people in accessing HIV testing, counselling and treatment (HCT) services, primary health care and transgender-related health care. The goal of this project is to develop preliminary recommendations for the implementation of transgender accessible HIV testing, counselling and treatment.

Partners: Center for LGBT Health Research and Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, University of Pittsburgh (L Theron and R Stall), and Gender, Health & Justice Research Unit (A Muller).

Region:  South Africa

Rape Sentencing Project

Even before the introduction of the Sexual Offences Act (32 of 2007), case law relating to rape has been marred by a persistent tension between individualisation and uniformity of sentencing practices by the South African judiciary. While the courts have criticised both the rigidity and the vagueness of mandatory minimum sentences, they have persevered with the mandatory minimum sentencing principles created by sections 51 and 53 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 105 of 1997.  It has been speculated that the vague terminology and lack of guiding principles within the Act (i.e. of what constitutes ‘substantial and compelling circumstances’) has generated discrepancies in sentencing, but reliable empirical evidence of this is almost non-existent. This project examines approximately 600 rape sentencing judgements from the years 2008-2013 through rigorous content analysis, followed by the employment of inter-rater reliability procedures.

Partners: Gender, Health & Justice Research Unit (L Artz and H Galgut); and Women’s Legal Centre (S. Bornman).

Region:  South Africa

THE ARTICLE 5 INITIATIVE: Harnessing African institutions for the prevention and combating of torture and other ill-treatment in six African states – the development and implementation of operational guidelines.

The Article 5 Initiative (the “A5I”), is a collaborative project between four organisations, working in 6 post-conflict African states including Burundi, Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa and Uganda. The Article 5 Initiative aims to support African institutions to improve domestic compliance with international law obligations, norms and procedures under the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT), the Robben Island Guidelines (RIG) and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR).

Partners: Gender, Health & Justice Research Unit (L Artz); Civil Society Prison Reform Initiative at the Community Law Centre, UWC (L Muntingh); African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum (S Tait) and the University of Bristol: Human Rights Implementation Centre (D Long); the Human Rights Commissions of Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi; the African Commission’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture.

Region:  South Africa, Kenya, Mozambique, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi

A Cross-Sectional National Epidemiological Study on Child Sexual Abuse in South Africa

In order to obtain a comprehensive picture of the nature, extent and impact of child sexual abuse and other forms of child maltreatment in South Africa, this study conducted a population survey with a sample of 15 to 17 year olds, recruited nationally (n= 9,900). The population study entailed two components – a household and a schools survey – while an agency survey explored the ways in which agencies receive, investigate, provide treatment services, or intervene in sexual offences cases. This study form part of an international comparative research project with Switzerland and China.

Principal Researchers: Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention (P Burton); Gender, Health & Justice Research (L Artz); and Department of Psychology UCT (C Ward).

Region:  South Africa (national)

The Clinical and Forensic Profile of Women Referred for Evaluation to Forensic Mental Health Units in South Africa

The South African Criminal Procedure Act (CPA Act 51 of 1977) provides for a psychiatric observation referral at a state hospital in cases where the capacity of the accused to understand proceedings or responsibility by reason of mental illness or mental defect is in doubt (s 77 & 78 of the CPA). Few studies have been conducted in South Africa with offenders referred for observation under these terms and only one has considered distinctly the forensic and clinical profile of female offenders (Nagdee & Erlacher 2010). This research aims to explore the socio-demographic, referral, clinical and forensic characteristics of accused women who are referred for observation under the CPA in South Africa, and to compare their profile to that of their male counterparts.

Partners: Fort England Hospital & Department of Psychiatry, Walter Sisulu University (M Nagdee: Principal Investigator, H Erlacher & L Kowalski); Gender, Health & Justice Research Unit (L Artz); Valkenberg/Lentegeur Hospital’s & Department of Psychiatry, University of Cape Town (C de Clercq and S Kaliski); Weskoppies Hospital & Department of Psychiatry, University of Pretoria (P de Wet, C Kotze & G Lippi); Fort Napier Hospital & Department of Psychiatry, University of Kwazulu-Natal (A Porter); Free State Psychiatric Complex & Department of Psychiatry, University of Free State (J Pretorius); Sterkfontein Hospital & Department of Psychiatry, University of Witwatersrand (U Subramaney).

Region:  South Africa (national)

Three Country Study on the Socio-Economic Impact of Pre-Trial Detention: Mozambique, Zambia and Kenya

Drawing on the broad analysis by the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights on the impact of pre-trial detention – which emphasises the impact of imprisonment not only on the pre-trial detainee but also on his/her family and community life – this project not only provides a ‘first time’ profile of the pre-trial population in two major remand centres in each country, but establishes the socio-economic impact and social consequences of pre-trial detention on detainees, their families and households in Mozambique, Zambia and Kenya.

Partners: Civil Society Prison Reform Initiative at the Community Law Centre, University of the Western Cape (L Muntingh & J Redpath); Gender, Health & Justice Research Unit (L Artz); Human Rights Commission (Zambia); Independent Medico Legal Unit (IMLU, Kenya); Centre for Human Rights, University Eduardo Mondlane (Mozambique).

Region:  Mozambique, Zambia, Kenya