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Straker, G. (1988). Child abuse, counselling and apartheid: The work of the Sanctuary Counselling Team. Free Associations, 1O(14):7-38.

(1988). Free Associations, 1O(14):7-38

Child abuse, counselling and apartheid: The work of the Sanctuary Counselling Team

Gill Straker

In a report by the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights it is stated that about 2,000 children under the age of sixteen were detained in South Africa in a four-month period. It states that torture and assault of children in detention was routine (cited in the Star, 21 April 1986). My own work and that of the Sanctuary Counselling Team with children in South Africa's black urban townships confirms that great numbers of children in South Africa are being subjected to violence which originates in the apartheid system. In this sense apartheid and child abuse are related.

Not all the abuse and violence to which children are subjected is directly inflicted by the South African Defence Force or the police. Detention and violent action by troops in the townships represent only two types of abuse growing out of apartheid.

Apartheid fosters hostility and conflict in the townships, and violent clashes between different sectors of the community are not uncommon. There are long lists, containing the names of thousands of detainees, of people who have died in what is euphemistically termed the unrest, including hundreds of people who have been ‘necklaced’ — killed by placing a gasoline-soaked tyre around their necks and setting them alight (Weekly Mail, 26 September 1986; City Press, 24 August, 1986).

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