Youth Day is all about recognizing the youth in our society and why it is important to remember our children and how they are affected by our decisions. Think of the way that the protests held on the 16 June had an effect on future generations. The event brought to light the bravery and conviction of those students. In a broader aspect, Youth Day also represents the children of the world. Children we should be nurturing and protecting, but still there are many out there that experience abuse every day.
This special day should be a reminder, that the youth are our future and that they have the chance to make changes for the better in our world, and need to be protected and guided in the right direction. Children learn from their environments and from the people who take care of them. Those who are nurtured and grow in a loving environment, should become healthy members of society. Those who are exposed to abuse and unstable environments will suffer long-term effects, both with their emotional and physical health.
Each person and child manages stress differently; there are certain factors that can contribute to how a child responds. The child’s age can influence their response to bad situations, how often has the abuse being going on, how severe the abuse is, amongst other factors. Even if the child is a bystander to abuse, there are going to be negative effects.
Children also learn behaviour from their parents, a boy witnessing abuse towards his mother, learns to be violent against women. There has to be a break or a turning point in the cycle of abuse.
Here are a few long-term effects of abuse:
Problems with communication
Suffering from depression and anxiety and even suicidal behaviour
Trouble with school work, which can affect their chances of gaining entrance into a higher educational facility.
May turn to alcohol and drugs or suffer from eating disorders
Children who have been abused or witnesses abuse, are more likely to end up in an abusive relationships.
Long-term physical health problems
This is where women’s crisis shelters play an important and pivotal role in the community. The shelters provide much needed assistance both for the abused and their children.
Benefits of shelters:
Shelters provide a safe and secure environment
Child protection is offered
Emotional and physical support
Many offer a number of services from support groups, counselling, and legal assistance
Some even help the victims find employment and schooling options for the kids
Women who are being abused may feel that there is nowhere safe to go, and many times they are not self-sufficient and therefore feel trapped in their situation. Having a crisis shelter within the community provides a way out, a place to go where they can be safe. Especially if there is a child involved.
All shelters require donations to be able to provide all of these services. This is where the community should be standing together with these types of organisations. This is especially in the case for children, as they are usually the silent victims and need somebody to stand up for them. Many of the shelters can then implement support programmes where children are encouraged to develop healthy relationships and to overcome the negative results of abuse. The mother’s and children can both look to a future filled with hope and opportunities.
Without adequate funding, the services offered to these vulnerable children and women are limited. Many of the women rely on shelters for their safety as well as for basic needs like food and toiletries. So let’s remember the children and those who need somebody to stand with them in times of great need.
We have some exciting news and projects on the go here at Safe House.
Focus on Entrepreneurial Skills
The Safe House has begun to focus on teaching the women useful business and entrepreneurial skills. This will create jobs for them, promote sustainability and increase revenue streams.
The aim of this project is to train women from disadvantaged communities in business skills.
Come and support our initiatives!
The women will make products at the shelter that will be sold at Blaauwklippen Family Market.
We will also do a cooked breakfast at our monthly breakfast garden in the Toy Museum gardens.
More fundraising drives
In October, we will have a golf day, CEO, Alice Wilton have more information about our golf day soon, so stay in touch.
The Safe House is committed to the upliftment of the women living in the shelter and firmly believes that by cultivating a culture of entrepreneurship among women, it can help empower them to generate their own revenue and become meaningful contributors to the economy.
Would you like to make a contribution? We are always happy to have volunteers come upskill our residents.
Gender Based Violence or GBV, why does it happen and why is it on the rise in South Africa? Some research from the SA Medical Research Council shows that a staggering 40% of men commit some form of violence against their partners. What’s even worse is that on average, three women are killed every day by their partners in this country.
How can this be happening and why don’t the authorities and government take more action? But first let’s look at what GBV involves.
Gender Based Violence can be
Structural: within society
In most cases the violence is committed by men against women and in many instances the perpetrator is a husband, partner or family member. The beliefs of gender roles in society differ from place to place, but predominantly throughout the world and in South Africa there exists a Patriarchal structure. Men dominate and are seen as superior, and women cannot function within society as they should. This type of thinking in communities allows men to perform acts of violence without having to worry about consequences.
There also seems to be a lethargic response to this issue, there doesn’t seem to be any improvement only an increase in the violence. Even going to the police does not seem to bring about any action. It seems that one in every 20 women that have been killed already had a protection order out against their abuser. It has been found that the problem is; many of the women are not taken seriously when reporting their issue to the police.
On the other hand, in many instances the police cannot be blamed as the complainant drops the charges. The reason being, the women who made the complaint has reconciled with the suspect and offers no further aid to the police in the matter. Even though there have been laws put in place over the years to help stop Gender Based Violence, it seems to remain an accepted way of life in South Africa.
“A house where a woman is unsafe is not a home.” – Women, Liberia
1 in 5 means you know someone…even if you think you don’t
One in five women in South Africa has been a victim to violence, according to the Demographic and Health Survey in 2016. The most prominent form of GBV in South Africa seems to be Sexual Violence. This was gathered by taking information from police reports over the years from 2012 through to 2015. The information provided shows numbers that are consistent over the four years, meaning there has been no improvement in the matter.
This doesn’t take into account those who don’t report a crime. Sexual violence is associated with feelings of guilt and shame and having to tell someone like an authority figure, is extremely difficult. It is even worse when you find out that reported rapes are not likely to go to trial, in fact even less than 4% goes to trial. Fiona Nicholson, a gender rights activist, mentions that only 1 in 9 rape cases are actually reported.
How does one tackle such an ingrained issue in society? In the Survey done by ‘Stats SA Victims of crime for 2016 and 2017’, it shows that 68% of men agree that women should have the same rights as men. But what of the other 32%, who believe they have more rights over women? Maybe by understanding the social conditions in South Africa, such as substance abuse, unemployment and the deeply rooted patriarchal attitudes ingrained into our society, can we possibly make an improvement?
Women need to tell their stories and share their experiences, because women seldom speak out about the issue. Some may express themselves by portraying men in general as ‘#MenAreTrash’. This may alienate those 68% of men who may become offended by this statement. The only way to defeat Gender Violence is to fight it together. Men have a big role in the struggle against Gender Violence. Men can speak strongly to other men about their behaviour towards women, they can be a big help in breaking the stereotypes other men have about women.
There has to be some intervention on all levels if the problem of Gender Violence is to stop. It should come from a Government level to within the communities. Schools need to have awareness programmes and whole communities need to be involved. This is a long term commitment; it has taken years to develop and will take time to change. But if everybody can be made aware of the issue, the more we educate the South African People, the more we can start making changes to stop the violence!
What can you do to help?
Support Safe Houses such as ours with your time, skills or money.
Mary* had nowhere to go. At seven months pregnant and with a toddler in hand, she needed to get away from her abusive environment. Mary had a difficult life and there were a multitude of factors that led her to the Safe House. She had been emotionally abused by her mother and sisters. An external social worker reached out to Safe House and asked for a place for the expectant mother and two year old.
Once settled in the Safe House she started therapy sessions. She got the VEP program therapy of Restoration and Healing, as well as Attachment Therapy together with her “the mother” and her child. To rebuild the trust and relationship, in order for attachment to grow.
Mary had to face many personal challenges, but trust was her biggest issue. Also: basic administration duties like registering your child after birth…we work on these challenges on a daily basis.
“I have learned to be a better mother. I’m going to go and find myself a job so that I can get all my children under one roof.” – Mary’s words.
Mary is still currently at the the Safe House and has one month left to stay. She is a loving person and we hope and believe that when he leaves the Safe House she will stay true to herself, focus on her dreams and Individual Plan as well as focus on what is the best for her children.
We believe in her.
*Names have been changed for the resident’s protection.
Safe House is a place of safety for women and their children who are victims of domestic violence. We rely on donations and support from volunteers. If you would like to pledge a monthly amount and make a significant difference in the lives of the women who find themselves all alone and with nowhere else to go, then please become a Friend of Safe House.
The rates of Domestic Violence in Uganda are exceptionally high. Statistics for Uganda show that 1 in 3 women in the country are abused by their partners. It is also recorded that about 70% of married women experience some form of domestic violence. Many of these women remain silent and do not report the crime to the police.
The reason being, that many in the communities support the violent behaviour. This is especially true if the women fails in certain household duties such as not looking after the children properly or if they fail to cook a proper meal. The government does have laws in place against domestic violence, but much of the time it is not enforced. Even though reports come in of rape and violence there are few convictions.
“Abuse is NOT Love. Abuse is about Control.” – Domestic Abuse Survivor
Now imagine men dressed in uniform marching down the street with babies strapped to their backs and balancing water jars as well as firewood on their heads. Some officers holding boards with phrases like, ‘Peace in the home’ or ‘Stop Violence against Women and Girls in Uganda’. People who are going about their day to day activities, stop to look, wondering what is going on!
This is what happened when brave officers from the Uganda Police Force showed up to show their support against Domestic Violence. Many are surprised by these acts, as the police have not exactly acted in a way that inspires confidence in them over the years. But as with many things, there are those who act poorly and those who wish to uphold the law and do their job properly. There was a similar event that occurred in December of 2015, when police officers also marched carrying balloons and wearing white ribbons in aid of bringing the issue of domestic violence to light.
There has been an increase over the years in the violence against women; this could be due to more women reporting cases. But whatever the reason authorities find the increase disturbing, which is why they are have participated in this initiative. They want to help bring awareness nationally as well as internationally to the problem of Domestic Violence. Hopefully change is coming for those affected by domestic violence in Uganda.
The problem of Domestic Violence was brought to light even more by one of the politicians within the Ugandan Government. He made statements that clearly suggest that it is okay to beat your wife, and he made his viewpoint on national television. The officers who participated in the marches clearly want to show their support, and show the people that they do not share in these attitudes. They want to stop the violence and murders of women in their communities.
Many are supporting them and praising their efforts towards this initiative. This support is seen on many of the social media platforms. Thankfully the Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, stands with them against domestic violence. He is encouraging the men in Uganda to stop beating and abusing their wives. This type of display of support shows a commitment on the part of authorities to confront and prevent any form of violence against women.
This is hopefully the beginning of a movement towards more tolerance of all groups of people and a firm stance against abuse on all levels.
Domestic Violence can come in many forms, not only physical. Many women are subjected to sexual, emotional, verbal abuse. South Africa also has a problem and is considered to have high rates of domestic violence. Every day women are subjected to physical assault, sexual and verbal abuse. If you feel you are being put in danger or are being abused in any way, there are organisations out there that can offer assistance and support.
I was a resident at the Safe House four years ago. When Charlene contacted me and ask if I want to apply for the position I said I will send my CV because I want to be part of the the good work they do.
What is the best part of the work you do?
To encourage the women to get out of the abusive relationship.
What is the biggest change you would like to see in the women you work with every day?
I would like to see them motivated to change their way of life and to be happy.
What was the best piece of advice you ever got?
To not look back and to be stuck in the past. I have to always look to Jesus.
What are your hobbies?
I love to do beading and love being at the beach.
Name three things that’s on your Safe House wish list.
To have a big vehicle for the Safe House because the residents and staff needs transportation.
To have more volunteers at the Safe House.
To have new kitchen cabinets.
Safe House Stellenbosch is a shelter for abuse women and their children. If you would like to get involved please do not hesitate to contact us: email@example.com / DonateVolunteer