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Churches as Service Providers for Victims of Sexual and/or Violent Crimes: A Case Study From the Paarl Community

NCJ Number
Acta Criminologica Volume: 18 Issue: 1 Dated: 2005 Pages: 140-163
J. C. Erasmus; G. G. Mans
Date Published
24 pages
This article explores through case study analysis the efforts of churches in South Africa to aid the female and child victims of sexual and/or violent crimes.
High levels of violent crime in South Africa are plaguing the nation, and indicators suggest this level of violence in only increasing. This article focuses specifically on sexual and violent crimes perpetrated against women and children in South Africa. The Unit for Religion and Development Research (URDR) initiated a project to determine the social development needs of local communities and to empower faith-based organizations (FBO's) to play an active role in meeting those needs. Despite the fact that FBO's are uniquely situated to regularly and consistently influence the public, the capacity and involvement of FBO's in communities across South Africa have not been evaluated. The current study offers a case study analysis describing a pilot project launched in 2001 in the Paarl area. The pilot project mapped all places of worship in the community and surveyed 10 percent of households regarding religiosity, crime victimization, and demographics. Crime data were drawn from the South African Police Service and 1996 census data were examined for community demographic information. Results indicated that the churches themselves were not particularly involved with meeting the needs of their members or the community in general. However, churches contain enormous potential in this regard and, as such, a process is described in which strategic interventions by churches could be accomplished. The process involves targeted interventions to the most needy areas as defined by primary and secondary data using a geographic information system (GIS) analysis. Tables, bibliography, appendixes, figures