Medical Research Council Seeks Key to Health and Safety of Cape Flats Women
BYLINE: CHRISTINA TAYLOR
THE SA Medical Research Council and technology company RTI International are em-barking on a study of women in poor Cape Flats communities in the hope of discovering whether empowerment and education might be the key to improving their health and safety.
About 900 women from the Cape Flats - including Crossroads, Delft, Gugulethu, Khayelitsha, Nyanga and Philippi - will be recruited over five years to participate in the project, which aims to establish the most effective way to reduce drug abuse, violence and sexual victimisation.
"The project stems from a recognition that in the Western Cape women face multiple health risks which intersect - specifically gender-based violence, substance abuse and sexual risk behaviour," MRC senior scientist Bronwyn Myers said.
The MRC said the women already enrolled reported using at least two drugs over the previous 90 days and were either unemployed, or earned less than R1 500 a month.
At the project's official launch in September, RTI International's Wendee Wechsberg said it was important that women knew how to reduce their sexual risks and methods for preventing violence.
"When women drug and drink they're giving away their power," she said.
The study's three "arms" would include a "women-focused" group, in which the women would be instructed on reducing their sexual risk, handling violent situations and safety, and empowerment in both their relationships and communities. …