The instructions came via a letter, allegedly from the Department of Health, dated 26 March 2013. The reason for not examining children after 10pm, according to the letter, is that children are irritable and need to sleep. The letter urges the clinic not to turn the child, police or counsellors away, but to rather give the child a place to rest and make it clear that they would be examined later.
So a child, who has most probably just experienced one of the most traumatic ordeals in his or her life, has to try to sleep, without washing, because he or she might be irritable and make the doctor or nurse’s job a little harder.
Of course they are irritable β this child has just been raped, can still smell the attacker on him or her, and is now being told to go to sleep.
The insensitivity of the letter’s instruction is appalling and one has to ask why it was never questioned until now?
Sometimes it is hard to understand the justification government and its departments give β it seems as if they are living in a different world.
It is like the Maiden Bursary programme in Kwazulu-Natal. The mayor is trying to defend the municipality for offering a bursary to female students who are virgins. If the student decides to have sex somewhere along the line … the bursary is taken away from her.
While one can try to understand the motivation behind these moves, it seems rather misguided to me. Rules and justifications such as the ones listed are shocking and one has to question the leadership of the two departments. Are they really the best people for the positions they have β considering the nonsensical decisions they are making?