Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng
Sexual health advocate, radio presenter
33-year-old Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng is well known among Kaya FM listeners and social media followers for her efforts to champion reproductive health rights and information. In addition to this work, she is also a hardworking private practitioner, producer of sexual health videos, women’s health and sexual health advocate, vice-chairperson of the Sexual & Reproductive Justice Coalition, a wife and the mother of a toddler.
What drives her is a quest to challenge rape culture, engender respect for patients among health practitioners, and raise awareness of women’s health issues and sexual violence.
Mofokeng grew up in QwaQwa, and says she has always known she wanted to be a doctor. After studying at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, her internship and community service work took her to Gauteng. “During my internship and community service, I found myself doing caesareans with just a nurse in under-resourced community hospitals, and I encountered many rape victims and victims of abuse. I realised we all need to work harder to address the social injustices that lead to rape, violence and a lack of respect for bodily integrity,” she says.
Mofokeng admits there were times she was driven to tears, especially when treating child rape victims. “I saw there was a lack of comprehensive care, safe havens for women and children and effective mechanisms for handling rape cases in the health and justice systems.”
Moved to agitate for better community and state interventions and support, as well as to better inform communities, Dr Mofokeng presents a regular sexual health show on Kaya FM; raises awareness via social media; gives talks on sexual health; and has made several TV appearances, including two in Al Jazeera’s The Cure series, which saw her traveling to Liberia. Mofokeng also runs a women’s health practice from the Disa Health Care clinic in Hurlingham, Johannesburg.
“My end goal as a doctor is to ensure there are places where people can have their bodily integrity respected, where they aren’t discriminated against because they are a transgender man who needs a pap smear, or a black lesbian who has been a victim of ‘corrective’ rape,” she says. Addressing rape culture and improving women’s health starts with information and support, she says. “In communities where there is support at every level, people tend to speak out more, because they know they are not alone. Without knowledge and support, people tend to remain silent, for fear of being shamed and victimised.”