Domestic violence over festive season soared

Jolene Chait

As a leading organisation actively fighting women abuse in South Africa, 1st for Women believes that it cannot be fought in isolation and that only by coming together and joining forces are we able to eradicate this scourge against our society.

When reflecting on the activities and campaigns that took place during 16 Days of Activism, we noticed that the awareness, activism and conversations are becoming more prevalent and are no longer simply paying lip service.

Part of the reason has been because women abuse is topping agendas across government and the private sector. Our president declared it a national emergency and some positive steps have been taken towards dealing with this issue which affects all South Africans. It has also garnered international support and attention.

UK charity group, The Halo Project, has partnered with the SA’s International Department of Trade and Industry to deliver a unique 6-week community education programme aimed at raising awareness about abusive cultural mind-sets. The programme is delivered by women, for women, and provides a platform for change influenced by victims and survivors of cultural harms.

Meanwhile, the World Economic Forum has set up a fund to create and develop a free emergency response system for women under attack in South Africa’s nine provinces. This was announced shortly after the shocking and brutal rape and murder of Uyinene Mrwetyana.

Locally, the Gauteng Department of Health opened a clinical forensic medical services facility in Bekkersdal. The facility will increase the department’s capacity in the provision of clinical medico-legal services to meet the health needs of patients and support the criminal justice system. This will include the provision of healthcare to patients of sexual assault and domestic and other violence.

At 1st for Women, we have raised over R70 million through our Foundation to help in the fight against women abuse. In addition, in 2017, we also launched our For-Women platform. This is an online resource that consolidates women abuse fighting efforts in one place. Featuring public, private and non-profit organisations, who have vowed to fight women abuse, it enables survivors to find the right help, quickly.

This year we will be launching a school-based learning programme at 20 registered Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centres and five Primary and High Schools in the Diepsloot community for children aged three to 18. The programme includes a comprehensive community- based support programme for survivors of abuse (from trauma to prosecution).

While women abuse is a complex and multi-faceted issue, we believe that education is a fundamental tool in the fight against women abuse. It is also not something that should be addressed only at specific times of the year. It needs to be front and centre in our minds at all times.

That is why 1st for Women partnered with UN Women and the Department of Women, Youth and Disabilities, to ensure that the fight against women abuse lives beyond the 16 Days of Activism and continues for the entire 365 days.

Awareness alone cannot create change, it requires action too. You can take part by pledging to fight women abuse, or by giving help to one of the many organisations which are fighting women abuse. You can also browse through some of our articles which offer advice and insights on the different aspects of women abuse.

We are committed to ending violence against women in South Africa. Are you with us?