Category: <span>Gender Based Violence</span>

04 May 2022 Media Release: Successful annual Gender–Based Violence Prevention and Awareness Summit hosted in the Garden Route District

Media Release:  Successful annual Gender-Based Violence Prevention and Awareness Summit hosted in the Garden Route District

For Immediate Release
4 May 2022

The annual Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Prevention and Awareness Summit, hosted by the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) in collaboration with the South African Police Service (SAPS), Eden and Da Gamaskop Cluster, took place on Thursday, 29 April 2022 at the Pacaltsdorp Civic Centre in George. Attendees included stakeholders and community activists involved in GBV from all over the district.

During this year’s summit, GBV issues and challenges in the Garden Route were discussed, with the intention to develop a GBV action plan as part of the National Strategic Plan. Messages of support and presentations were delivered by the National Youth Development Agency, Garden Route Men’s Sector, Family and Marriage Society of South Africa (FAMSA), Western Cape Department of Social Development, -Justice, -Correctional Service, -Health, as well as the local LGBTQIA+ community, faith-based and NGO communities in the district.

The summit also aims to bring together people from different communities, to talk openly about issues that occur in society; to prevent people from working in silos; to share ideas and come up with solutions. All these aims are combined to create a comprehensive plan to bring HOPE to people who are hopeless and fragile.

SURVIVOR OF GBV

A remarkable highlight of the summit was when Fredeline Stellenberg, a victim and survivor of GBV who was brutally attacked and stabbed 23 times in 2014, delivered her testimony. With her opening remarks, she said she didn’t want to focus on the actual event too much. Instead, she rather wanted to focus on how to rise and continue after such an experience.  “No one can change the person they love or make them a better version of themselves. Unfortunately, a person will only change if he/she wants to. The biggest lie we, as women, can tell ourselves is that we have the ability to change our husbands.”

Fredeline further explained that she did everything she could to get help, hoping that things would change for the sake of her children. But towards the end, she realised that she was doing more harm to everyone she was involved with, including her husband. “I was never ashamed to show people that my marriage had cracks; I reached out for help, but in the end almost lost my life. I’m appealing to women, as well as men who suffer in silence, to stop pretending that everything is ‘fine’ but to start speaking out. You deserve better! Faith in God, love for my children, and hope for a better life carried me through. Always remember, nothing in life is so terrible that it cannot be overcome,” she says.

DEPARTMENT SOCIAL SERVICES ENCOURAGE DEPARTMENTS TO WORK CROSS-SECTORALLY

Ms Ingrid Parks of the Western Cape Department of Social Services applauded the community and Community Safety Forums (CSF) for being the ‘coalface’ in their communities who acts as an arrow of referral.  She thanked the CSF members for the time that they offer and the work they do. Parks proceeds by saying, “It is at events such as today, when representatives from all departments gather together, that everyone is reminded that they all have their starting and ending points. When it comes to gender-based care, the bottom line is that departments must work cross-sectorally, meaning that the one hand must hold the other hand,” Parks said.

According to Ms Parks, Social Services offer a response and early intervention services. It is the first priority to assess and contain clients that are referred by SAPS, departments, and NGOs. This is because people/victims who are broken come with a lot of tears and brokenness and need comfort and containment.  She elaborated on the critical support services they provide to families and individuals, which include:

  • trauma counseling
  • trauma-specific support to the sexual defense court
  • therapeutic service; and
  • integration services.

When it comes to raising awareness, we realised we had to move away from the 16 Day of Activism program to a 365 days campaign. Programmes need to run all year round.  “We have to go back to the era where we take back our streets, right where we stay, because we have a role to play in our homes, churches and community.”  In conclusion, Ms Hendricks, also from the Department of Social Services spoke on their victim empowerment programmes, the different residential and non-residential services offered and the care and protection of victim programme, which includes the placement of victims in temporary safe house facilities.

STATISTICS SHARED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH

The ±200 people in the audience were captivated by the shocking statistics and data shared by the Department of Health.  As part of the department’s GBV programme for 2021, Hessequa and Oudtshoorn were flagged as the two towns in the Garden Route where more than 17% of babies born, were born to women between the ages of 10 and 19 years old.  This means that those women did not have the opportunity to complete their schooling or get to the next level of education. Furthermore, 51 girls between the ages of 10 -14 gave birth in 2021 in the Garden Route district and some of them were survivors of rape.

Mrs Gail Holton stressed the rise of sexual assault cases for 2021, saying that it’s evident that the system put in place by the department is working and that people are confident in getting the help they required.  In conclusion, she highlighted the interventions the Department of Health had decided to undertake now around GBV in an attempt to look at their own ‘house’ first, trying to ‘fix’ it.

Among the steps they will take are:

  1. increasing awareness through awareness days
  2. facilitating open discussions
  3. placing GBV on agendas of discussions with unions and during management meetings
  4. ensuring that all staff know and understand the process of reporting GBV
  5. designating and training sexual harassment officers for each sub-district.

It is the department’s belief that if they have an informed staff and get their house in order, they will improve the patient experience.

A MESSAGE FROM AN LGBTQIA+ ACTIVIST

‘Lady Jojo’, an activist in the local LGBTQ+ community in the Garden Route, explained where LGBTQ+ fits in at gender-based violence and shared some of the challenges faced.  She referred to her past experiences, amongst others of GBV, “I am a product of being abused behind four walls, closed doors and closed curtains.  After that, I am expected to go out and act normal, because I’m called a ‘moffie’tjie’ by some.

She also took time to explain the different letters of the LGBTQIA+ initialism, which stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex and Asexual, with the + sign including allies and other initials like pansexual, transsexual, questioning, etc.

Lady Jojo shared a deeper understanding on the names LGBTQ+ are given as swear words, as a means to take away their dignity, to make them feel inferior and rob them of their femininity.  She also left the audience with some food for thought, challenging them to think deeply about the following:

  • Where do transgender women fit into the Constitution of South Africa;
  • How can I celebrate Human Rights Day when I am a victim of GBV;
  • How can I celebrate Freedom Day when freedom is taken from me on a daily basis;
  • Why is help withheld from me when I go to the police station to seek help?

“Please note, we as the LGBTQ+ community will no longer ask society to respect us, we will demand that from you.  We do not ask you to accept us, we ask you to tolerate us, just like we all have to tolerate others”.

RESTORING DIGNITY WHEN DEALING WITH VICTIMS OF GBV

Ms Angelique Vezasie from the Thutuzela Care Centre situated at the Casualty Unit of George Hospital explained her organisations role as a multi-disciplinary team connected to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), health professionals, and the South African Police Service (SAPS). She also said that it is a one-stop facility introduced as a critical aspect of reducing secondary victimisation and improving conviction rates.

She briefly summarized the processes followed when a victim has been raped or sexually assaulted and reported it to the police. “When dealing with victims, it is very imperative that they receive the best quality service while maintaining their dignity, regardless of their age or the condition they are in when they enter our centre.  GBV victims need to feel that they will be helped, seen, heard, respected, and believed when they come forward,” Vezasie said.

THE BILL OF RIGHTS, CHAPTER 2

Ms Elise du Toit, from the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development in Pretoria, presented next via Microsoft Teams. She spoke about the importance of understanding human rights and applying them.  Attendees were urged to regularly read the Constitution that was provided to them, to understand the rights and duties of everyone living in South Africa and to become familiar with the defined structure of government and the values embedded within it.

For the purposes of the summit, Du Toit mainly focused on Chapter 2 of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights.  “The Bill of Rights is the cornerstone of our democracy, and if you don’t want to read the Constitution or aren’t interested in anything about it, then I encourage you to read Chapter 2. It affirms our values of human dignity, equality, and freedom and explains our rights as citizens. However, most importantly, the state, not only the citizens or the public servants, but the government as a whole, has to maintain, promote and protect these rights,” explained du Toit.

USER-FRIENDLY APP TO EXPOSE GBV

As the founder and managing director of God Cares International, Debbie Pijoos has a reputation for being a passionate advocate for GBV in the Garden Route region. In her address, Ms Pijoos told the audience about a world-first new app she and her team developed to help victims of abuse and GBV.

Pijoos gave a brief history about how the idea of the app came to light from a desperate desire to do something about the escalating numbers of GBV in communities.  “It was a very difficult year for GBV in our country in 2019, and as you all know, GBV does not have specific criteria.  That year I found myself with the question, is there anything we can do to assist with this crisis, but at that stage, nothing came to heart.“

Months later, Pijoos and her team came up with the idea to develop a user-friendly app to assist not only victims and their families, but also offenders and those who would like to help and fight the war against GBV.

During her concluding remarks, Ms Pijoos explained the different support and services the app provides. She said: “Yes, we are sitting with a fatherless generation and that’s why we included a panic button on the app.  Why must we always end with fathers or mothers going to jail and their spouses being buried, leaving children behind as orphans?  Why not try and do something to stop this from happening in its tracks.”

REHABILITATION PROGRAMMES IN PRISON

The last speaker for the day was Ms Charmaine Cronje; a Social Worker at the Department of Correctional Services who gave a brief overview of what happens when a person ends up in prison after being sentenced.  She explained the role of the multi-disciplinary team involvement, consisting of social workers, psychologists, teachers and spiritual care workers. Also how these role-players individually assess a prison in order to determine the needs and to recommend programmes.

“I need to clarify that officials in the past used to be only responsible to open and close prisons, but this process completely changed.  Each official currently in service is seen as a rehabilitator, working together to help rehabilitate prisoners.”

Ms Cronje further explained that all the departments and NGOs present form part of their rehabilitation programmes and awareness activations that are regularly been roll-out in prison.  “Rehabilitation is a process. When a prisoner is released, our ideal and goals are for him/her to be fully rehabilitated, ready to take his/her place as a fully capable individual in the community.”

CONCLUDING REMARKS

Mr Siphiwe Dladla, the Chief of Staff for Garden Route District Municipality, concludes the summit by encouraging the delegates to share the information and knowledge they gained with others.  “It is critical to remember that everyone in the country is affected by this pandemic.  Let’s get involved in the fight against this evil.”  Mr Dladla thanked the audience for their patience during the lengthy programme and presentations.  Specifically, he thanked SAPS, under the leadership of LieutenantColonel  Kennedy, for ensuring that the right speakers were present and that the most relevant topic was covered with a high level of participation.

 

 

iStock.com/ufabizphoto

13 June 2020 International Albinism Awareness Day

13 June annually is proclaimed as International Albinism Awareness Day and by acknowledging and celebrating this day, a platform is created to educate people on albinism in a quest to demystify and debunk deep-seated misconceptions and superstitious beliefs on this condition.

In 2013, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution calling for the prevention or attacks and discrimination against persons with albinism, and on 26 March 2015, following a recommendations from civil society organisations to consider persons with albinism as a specific group with particular needs who require special attention, the Council created the mandate of independent expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism.

What is Albinism?

Albinism is an inherited genetic condition that reduces the amount of melanin pigment formed in the skin, hair and/or eyes. Albinism occurs in all racial and ethnic groups throughout the world. In the U.S., approximately one in 18,000 to 20,000 people has some type of albinism. In other parts of the world, the occurrence can be as high as one in 3,000. Most children with albinism are born to parents whose hair and eye color are typical for their ethnic backgrounds.

Common myths about albinism?

  • A common myth is that people with albinism have red eyes. Although lighting conditions can allow the blood vessels at the back of the eye to be seen, which can cause the eyes to look reddish or violet, most people with albinism have blue eyes, and some have hazel or brown eyes. There are different types of albinism and the amount of pigment in the eyes varies. However, vision problems are associated with albinism.
  • The myth that sex with people with albinism is a cure for HIV/Aids: The false belief has resulted in the rape of women and girls with albinism in parts of Africa.
  • People with albinism (children in particular) bring bad luck: There is superstitious misconception that the condition brings sickness or even death.
  • Albinism is a punishment of a curse from the gods or ancestral spirits.
  • Body parts of persons living with albinism can be used in portions to cure other diseases.
  • Drinking the blood of a person with albinism gives you magical powers.
  • People who spent too much time in the sun will develop albinism.
  • People with albinism have a lower IQ than the rest of the population.

The abovementioned myths is just a few example which may lead to serious harm, or even death of people with albinism, seeing that many people still believe these myths about albinism.

People with albinism are at risk of isolation because the condition is often misunderstood. Social stigmatization can occur, especially within communities of color, where the race or paternity of a person with albinism may be questioned. Families and schools must make an effort to include children with albinism in group activities.

 

Source of some of the facts: Website of National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation

Garden Route men attend 1st Men’s Parliament in George

The Men’s Parliament was launched and presented by the Deputy Minister of Social Development, Honorable Hendrietta Ipeleng Bogopane-Zulu, in collaboration with the South African National AIDS Council, Takuwani Riime and Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM). The purpose of the assembly was to discuss approaches to behavioural change programmes of the Department of Social Development (DSD) that seek to promote positive outcomes critical to change the course of gender-based violence faced by all South Africans.

Executive Mayor of GRDM, Cllr Memory Booysen (2nd right), together with Speaker of GRDM, Cllr Barend Groenewald and Municipal Manager of GRDM, Mr Monde Stratu, welcomed the Deputy-Minister of DSD, Honorable Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu (middle) and Professor Archbishop Mbulelo Dyasi, Secretary of the Men’s Sector, SANAC (right) to the Garden Route district, before the commencement of the 1st Men’s Parliament assembly.

After Honorable Ipeleng Bogopane-Zulu was warmly welcomed by the Executive Mayor of GRDM, Cllr Memory Booysen, she later joined the men in Conville to officially launch the assembly, which will now be a quarterly sitting.

Deputy-Minister of DSD, Honorable Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, during her keynote address at the assembly.

Attendees used the opportunity provided to them, to speak about the issues men are faced with on a daily basis and used the question “What is a man?” as a basis and kick-off point for all related discussions that followed.

These discussions included:

  • the nature of the problem;
  • validation of positive masculinity and the need  for healing;
  • promoting a healthy society;
  • the call from women; and
  • the responses of men – what must be done, economic development – how we are going to build the economy and personal commitment, mobilisation and accountability (from decision, to action, to results, demonstrating the results of our actions, as well as mentorship in raising responsive responsible boys.

During her keynote address, Ms Bogopane-Zulu praised the GRDM Executive Mayor, Cllr Memory Booysen, and Speaker, Cllr Barend Groenewald, as well as the local municipalities in the district for their eagerness to implement the programme. She said: “I know that more men will be included in future male-focused engagements.  This is a long road, but if we continue to work together, the road will get shorter.  We cannot achieve anything if we do not have your support”. Ms Bogopane-Zulu further referred to the recent tragic deaths of women in the district as a result of gender-based violence, specifically in the Mossel Bay area and said:  “It is time that men take full responsibility and accountability, not only for their individual actions, but also for their collective actions”. She added: “Whenever these perpetrators go to court, only the faces of women are visible outside the courts“. She furthermore said: “I want to see men with posters in front of these courts, not only women. She encouraged men to stand firm and say ‘no, this one must not be allowed bail”. She further encouraged all attendees to use their voices with the hope to help Government to implement programmes that will assist men to improve their circumstances and behaviour, to make this country a better country for all.

Portfolio Councillor for Roads and Transport Planning Services at GRDM, Cllr Rowan Spies, spoke about how men must find a way to manage their egos and anger. He emphasised:  “We as men have to find a way to deal with our egos and anger, in order to gain self-respect. Change only happens in the practice of discipline and forgiveness”. He concluded with the following words:  “We are servants at various levels of society and we must all translate it into what we do on a daily basis. We have to deal with our egos and forgiveness,” he added.

The assembly was successfully chaired by the GRDM Speaker Barend Groenewald, who concluded the event with the following words:  “Let us act, to correct, educate and let the perpetrators face the consequences of their own shameful and deliberate actions”.

It is envisaged that the programme will be implemented and extended to the local municipalities in the Garden Route from next year onwards, whereby men structures will be established by the DSD and GRDM, to ensure the progress of the Takuwani Riime project. ‘Takuwani Riime’ is a Venda expression meaning “let Us Stand Up Together”.

Resolutions taken at the event:

 Motions with Notice

 1. Motions on Definition of a man

A man is not simply defined by his physical make-up, A man is a man through his action(s) that reflect good morals, accountability and the affection he brings to his house and community. A man is provider and a protector, nurtured by his character.

 2. Motions on health wellness and socio-economic hardships

We move for the adoption that men need to avail themselves to seek health advice timeously in order to detect and help prevent illnesses. Men need undergo introspection and seek psychosocial services in order to effect social behavioural change practices. Men need to undergo HIV, TB, Prostate Cancer and heart-related health check-ups and take a greater responsibility in looking after their health. Men need to work in conjunction with the government to examine the nature and structural drivers of unemployment for middle-aged men and develop a framework that will remedy unemployment.

 3. Motions on gender-based Violence

We move for the adoption to work towards eradicating and preventing new cases of GBV, femicide, rape and abuse. We as Men of Garden Route bind and commit ourselves to say “No women and Child” should suffer or experience any form of violence in our district, we say “Not in Our Name”.

 4. Motions on District Men’s Parliament 

We move for the adoption to work towards strengthening the implementation of Takuwani Riime and looking at avenues to strengthen the relationship between the Garden Route District Men’s sector, District Municipality, local municipalities and the Department of Social Development. As men of the Garden Route District, we need to mobilize more men in communities, mobilize the business and capacitate existing men’s sector structure. We need to move towards institutionalizing our movement to be absorbed by our district and local municipality through finding synergies and other methods of cooperation. District Men’s Parliaments are to have quarterly sitting to monitor and evaluate implementation efforts, and to aid implementations of Boys Assemblies.

Forms of gender-based violence

There are many different forms of violence, which you can read more about here. All these types of violence can be – and almost always are – gendered in nature, because of how gendered power inequalities are entrenched in our society.

GBV can be physical, sexual, emotional, financial or structural, and can be perpetrated by intimate partners, acquaintances, strangers and institutions. Most acts of interpersonal gender-based violence are committed by men against women, and the man perpetrating the violence is often known by the woman, such as a partner or family member [3].

Violence against women and girls (VAWG)

GBV is disproportionately directed against women and girls [4]. For this reason, you may find that some definitions use GBV and VAWG interchangeably, and in this article, we focus mainly on VAWG.

Violence against LGBTI people

However, it is possible for people of all genders to be subject to GBV. For example, GBV is often experienced by people who are seen as not conforming to their assigned gender roles, such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or intersex people.

Intimate partner violence (IPV)

IPV is the most common form of GBV and includes physical, sexual, and emotional abuse and controlling behaviours by a current or former intimate partner or spouse, and can occur in heterosexual or same-sex couples [5].

Domestic violence (DV)

Domestic violence refers to violence which is carried out by partners or family members. As such, DV can include IPV, but also encompasses violence against children or other family members.

Sexual violence (SV)

Sexual violence is “any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances, or acts to traffic, or otherwise directed, against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting, including but not limited to home and work.” [6]

Indirect (structural) violence

Structural violence is “where violence is built into structures, appearing as unequal power relations and, consequently, as unequal opportunities.

Structural violence exists when certain groups, classes, genders or nationalities have privileged access to goods, resources and opportunities over others, and when this unequal advantage is built into the social, political and economic systems that govern their lives.”

Because of the ways in which this violence is built into systems, political and social change is needed over time to identify and address structural violence.

Civil society organisations across the country formed the National Strategic Plan on Gender-Based Violence campaign, demanding a fully-costed, evidence-based, multi-sectoral, inclusive and comprehensive NSP to end GBV. [Photo: Alexa Sedgwick, Sonke Gender Justice]

GBV in South Africa

Societies free of GBV do not exist, and South Africa is no exception [7].

Although accurate statistics are difficult to obtain for many reasons (including the fact that most incidents of GBV are not reported [10] ), it is evident South Africa has particularly high rates of GBV, including VAWG and violence against LGBT people.

Population-based surveys show very high levels of intimate partner violence (IPV) and non-partner sexual violence (SV) in particular, with IPV being the most common form of violence against women.

  • Whilst people of all genders perpetrate and experience intimate partner and or sexual violence, men are most often the perpetrators and women and children the victims [7].
  • More than half of all the women murdered (56%) in 2009 were killed by an intimate male partner [8].
  • Between 25% and 40% of South African women have experienced sexual and/or physical IPV in their lifetime [9, 10].
  • Just under 50% of women report having ever experienced emotional or economic abuse at the hands of their intimate partners in their lifetime [10].
  • Prevalence estimates of rape in South Africa range between 12% and 28% of women ever reporting being raped in their lifetime [10-12].
  • Between 28 and 37% of adult men report having raped a women [10, 13].
  • Non-partner SV is particularly common, but reporting to police is very low. One study found that one in 13 women in Gauteng had reported non-partner rape, and only one in 25  rapes had been reported to the police [10].
  • South Africa also faces a high prevalence of gang rape [14].
  • Most men who rape do so for the first time as teenagers and almost all men who ever rape do so by their mid-20s [15].
  • There is limited research into rape targeting women who have sex with women. One study across four Southern African countries, including South Africa, found that 31.1% of women reported having experienced forced sex [16].
  • Male victims of rape are another under-studied group. One survey in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape found that 9.6% of men reported having experienced sexual victimisation by another man [17].

Source: https://www.saferspaces.org.za/understand/entry/gender-based-violence-in-south-africa

Gender Based Violence and Femicide Summit

Garden Route District Municipality in collaboration with the South African Police Service and the Western Cape Department of Community Safety, today and tomorrow, 25-26 November 2019, will host a Gender-Based Violence Summit at the Conville Community Centre in George.

The Summit includes government, civil society and other role-players in an effort to find solutions to the scourge of gender-based violence that plague communities. The summit also serves as a platform for victims to share experiences and find collective solutions to issues.

On the end of the two-day summit, participants develop a list of priority actions that will outline a roadmap to a Garden Route free from Gender-Based-Violence.