Women and Men Against Child Abuse (WMACA) is appealing to the SA Nursing Council (SANC) to recognise forensic nurses and register them.
"Our aim is to convince the SANC to accredit and recognise forensic nurses to ensure that victims of rape receive highly specialised, experienced medical services," said Vincentia Dlamini-Ngobese, spokesman for WMACA.
WMACA, which fights for the rights of victims of rape and abuse, held a workshop on forensic nursing last month.
Dlamini-Ngobese said forensic nurses obtain a qualification in professional nursing and then go on to get a further qualification in forensic nursing.
According to nursing council spokesman Partyday Moloi, forensic nursing first arose as a specialised discipline in nursing in 2000 when the first course was offered at the University of the Free State. The course does not have the SANC's approval hence it made it difficult for SANC to recognise it.
"We are not aware of the content of the course and that was the reason we had the workshop to understand whether it qualifies as a speciality," said Moloi.
The WMACA call comes after the organisation discovered that forensic nurses were paid significantly less than other specialised medical staff with equivalent qualifications.
"The result is that most experienced forensic nurses are leaving in search of greener pastures," Dlamini-Ngobese said.
"Forensic nurses," WMACA said, "offer essential services for a range of health-related concerns for rape victims such as pregnancy, possible HIV infection and other sexually transmitted diseases.
"They offer medico-legal services which means they can testify in court in rape cases or any other cases relating to violent crimes where forensics would be necessary," Dlamini-Ngobese said.
She said forensic nurses were the most cost-effective way to provide specialised services to rape survivors while ensuring convictions in rape cases.
Moloi said it would take up to two years to have forensic nurses accredited.
"We need to see if it can qualify as an speciality or if they must add a qualification," Moloi said.
She explained that the process is lengthy and includes writing regulations, sending these to the Department of Health and getting public comment.
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