Justice, Democracy and Human Rights

The Children’s Institute

More than two thirds of South Africa’s 19 million children live in poverty and one in 15 die from diseases that could be prevented – according to research by UNICEF. The Children’s Institute (CI) at UCT seeks to contribute to policies, laws and interventions that promote equality, realize the rights and improve the prospects of all children in South Africa. Established at UCT in 2001 with a generous core grant from Atlantic Philanthropies, the CI seeks to bring about positive change in the lives of children through a complex but carefully honed combination of social and legal research, multiple level evidence-based advocacy and public engagement, community capacity-building, and a communications strategy designed to reach diverse audiences. As a university-based institute, the CI regards rigorous, socially responsive research and analysis as a necessary condition for its activities. However, it recognizes that for research to have a social impact, it needs to be carefully crafted in conjunction with strategies for dissemination, policy dialogue with key stakeholders, and advocacy for social change. Focal areas for research-based action are: child rights; child health; social security; social services; education and care; child poverty; and children in the context of HIV/AIDS. The Elma Foundation has provided the Institute with a three year challenge grant to cover operational costs. Atlantic Philanthropies has provided a lead gift of R2.6 million. The fundraising target is R5 million.

The South African Child Gauge and the indicator project Children Count – Abantwana Babalulekile are the CI’s main vehicles for reviewing the situation of children in South Africa. The Child Gauge is used nationwide and cited by government, professionals who provide services for children, and civil society organisations. There exists no other comparable source of information on children in South Africa. Visit the website.

Praise for the 2009/2010 SA Child Gauge

“You’ll find information here that’s near impossible to obtain elsewhere. The ‘Children Count’ section offers the most authoritative and up to date data on the health and well-being of South African children…”
~ Professor Haroon Saloojee, Division of Community Paediatrics, University of Witwatersrand

Download the Children’s Institute South African Child Gauge 2010-2011

Merged Attrition Report

Merged Attrition Report

Gender, Health and Justice Research Unit

In South Africa a woman is raped every 17 seconds. This according to a recent Interpol study that shows the country leads the world in rape statistics as well as with regard to violence against women and children more generally. The Gender, Health and Justice Research Unit (GHJRU) at UCT unites scholars, NGOs and criminal and medical practitioners in the fight against this scourge. The Unit’s core objective is, through interdisciplinary research, to develop and implement social interventions to address violence against women and children. The Unit focuses on contemporary legislative and policy reforms and their application in practice. It also conducts progressive, social action research in the areas of women’s rights, seeking in particular to improve access to health and justice services for survivors of gender based violence and their families. For more information, visit the website.

Download the Merged Attrition Report

Law 150 Campaign

Few would argue that a robust legal system is the cornerstone of a strong democracy. The Faculty of Law is committed to supporting and growing the legal profession in South Africa to foster democracy and the rule of law. In 2008 it launched the Law 150: Towards Sustainable Justice campaign to celebrate 150 years of law at UCT and create an endowment fund to help it achieve this aim.

Goal:  a five year campaign with a minimum target of R25 million.  With two years to go, UCT Law Faculty is almost there and have already started to use the annual income from the funding from generous donors from the United States and around the globe.  For more information about UCT Law scholarships and the staff development programme see pages p.60-61 of the 2011 UCT Law Review.

Download 2011 UCT Law Review

Perinatal Mental Health Project (PMHP)

PMHP annual report 2010

Click image to download the PMHP annual report.

The women who access the services of the Perinatal Mental Health Project are mostly from poor areas in and around Cape Town. They endure extreme hardship, have experienced multiple, severe traumas and have little or no support. Coupled with the emotional and physical challenges of pregnancy and motherhood, perinatal mental illness has reached epidemic levels among poor women. The stress of living in poverty may lead to mental illness during pregnancy. At the same time, those who live with mental illness are at increased risk of sliding into, or remaining in poverty, as a result of increased health expenditure, lost income, reduced productivity and lost employment. High levels of violence and abuse in South Africa place women at a higher risk of developing a mental illness. Furthermore, women with mental illness are more vulnerable to abuse.

Pregnancy is also the time when most women learn their HIV-status. Mental illness has been found to impact negatively on HIV/AIDS treatment adherence and outcomes. Psychological distress has negative impacts on the mother, foetus and infant, which can persist into adolescence, resulting in higher rates of cognitive, behavioural and emotional difficulties as well as mental illness and suicide tendencies in teenagers. Therefore, the PMHP’s guiding philosophy is that caring for mothers is caring for the future. Visit the website.

Aids Archive

Southern Africa has the highest rates of HIV/AIDS in the world and, as such, is a rich resource of information on the disease, its vectors of transmission, prevention, treatment, care and support. The struggle against HIV/AIDS in the past ten years has also spawned some highly successful civil rights movements such as the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC).

To capture the vital historical record associated with this social tragedy, UCT Libraries and the Community Media Trust (CMT) have embarked on an ambitious partnership to archive and curate over 3,000 hours of video footage on HIV/AIDS related health media. The end result will be a searchable online database that will make the information widely available and easily accessible for teaching and research both at UCT and further field.

The footage being donated by CMT comprises one of the largest audio-visual collections on the AIDS experience in Africa and internationally. It also contains extensive materials on the TAC’s struggle for access to treatment from 1999 to the present. CMT was established as a sister movement to the TAC and has filmed most of the organisation’s meetings and congresses with the express purpose of creating an historical record of the struggle against HIV/AIDS.  The Elsevier Foundation has provided a lead grant for this project. Additional support is needed to make our target is R3 million over three years

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