FASD Speech to South African Parliament written by VC Volunteer Aisling Foley

We recently told you how VC Volunteer Aisling Foley, on assignment as Project Manager at the Home of Hope Amathemba Special Needs School in Cape Town, South Africa, assisted South African MP Cheryllyn Dudley draft a speech on the issues of violence against women and FASD

When the speech was delivered in the South African parliament last week calling on the government to create a national symposium on Foetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder (FASD) to raise awareness about this disability, it received a standing ovation. We are very happy to be able to share that speech written in conjunction with Aisling in full!


Speech written in conjunction with Aisling Foley Viatores Christi


Speech delivered by Cheryllyn Dudley, MP and Whip

The African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) calls on government to prioritise adequate funding of services for women & children in crisis

Honourable Chairperson,

There is a bridge in the Cape Town suburb of Brooklyn that is passed over by thousands of cars every day. Under this bridge one-year-old baby Lilly’s life was changed forever when a man abducted her and violently raped her there. One can only imagine the internal bleeding and damage – it is unusual for children who are raped at such a tender age to survive but Lilly was found alive and taken to hospital. She will never be able to have children of her own and suffers from STDs but she is a fighter and wants to live. With remaining trauma in her spirit and a scarred body, little Lilly – who was born to alcoholic parents living on the streets- is being nurtured back to health and life at an NGO in Cape Town.
Not a day goes by when we don’t hear about children and women being raped and murdered in our communities. NGO’s and CBO’s in South Africa who exist to provide temporary safe havens for children and women in crisis are too often unable to help every person in need and are forced to turn some away. As hard as this is a severe lack of resources leaves no alternative.

The ACDP calls on government to prioritise adequate funding of organisations that have proved capable of providing much needed services for women and children in crisis.

The ACDP is disappointed that the Minister of Human Settlements has not expedited the Special Needs Housing Policy that would benefit women needing to leave abusive relationships.

It is over a year now since the Minister responded to the ACDP question regarding this policy giving details of the process to be followed before any new policy is approved and introduced. Sadly the housing needs of thousands of violated women, children and other people with urgent special housing needs have been all but ignored for the past two decades and continue to be ignored despite the fact that our Constitution guarantees the rights of all people – including those who are most vulnerable and most in need – to have access to adequate housing [section 26(1)] as well as their rights to equality and dignity. We urge the Minister to prioritise this!

The ACDP is also concerned that the department of Health has either not yet updated the 2003 national guidelines around the management of sexual assault to reflect changes in law and practice – introduced by the 2007 Sexual Offences and Related Matters Amendment Act – or has not yet made these important updated guidelines public – this must be done!

Alcohol and drug abuse are so often on the scene when violence takes place and the repercussions in the lives of victims and their children are significant and tragic – it also impacts negatively on the economy and budgets. Even the damage alcohol inflicts on pre-born babies through women drinking while pregnant resembles the aftermath of violence.

Of course women don’t drink to intentionally harm their babies but the statistics on children in South Africa with varying degrees of brain damage due to Foetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder (FASD) are staggering.

Many babies exposed to alcohol in the womb are permanently damaged and end up on the streets. Even the less severely afflicted have learning difficulties, often get in trouble with the law, misuse alcohol & drugs themselves and become victims of deviant sexual behaviour and in turn become abusers.

The Western Cape has the highest rate of FASD in the world and researchers see it as no co-incidence that the highest rate of FASD stands alongside one of the highest sexual crime rates in the country with beautiful Cape Town having earned the title of ‘Rape Town’.
Social workers say there is a great need for education about the dangers of alcohol particularly in pregnancy. There are approximately 6 million FASD sufferers in the country that need support and provision of services. More must be done and the ACDP calls for a national symposium on Alcohol Abuse and FASD involving all stakeholders to address the needs, find the necessary resources and consider sustainable viable solutions to the problem.
This Friday, 25th November is the start of 16 Days of Activism for no violence against women and children, the theme this year being “Count me in: together moving a non-violent South Africa forward.”