Deputy Minister “touched” by session on abuse

Deputy Minister of Human Settlements Zou Kota-Fredericks says she was emotionally touched by the stories of abuse and hurt women from townships like Dunoon and Mitchells Plain revealed during a dialogue session.

As part of commemorating 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children, the Deputy Minister interacted with about 100 men and women from Dunoon and the surrounding areas on Saturday to discuss solutions aimed at rooting out the scourge of abuse in communities.

The session was held at the African Pride Crystal Towers Hotel Century City in Cape Town.

Shortly after convening the highly emotional session, the Deputy Minister said: “I was touched, particularly on the issue of economic empowerment. You must remember the scourge we are talking about of violence against women comes out of unemployment in the main, inequality, poverty.

“So economic empowerment provides solutions or relief to some of these families.”

During the dialogue, Dunoon resident Kuhle Moyana said women in her area did not have a place where they could go to for help or assistance to be empowered.

“We need centres in our township where we can meet as women, abused or not, where we can also get empowered,” she said.

Another resident from Mitchells Plain said she ran a care centre for abused children, including those that are forced to sell drugs in schools and on street corners, in Tafelsig.

She shocked those that attended the session when she said that as part of her work, she found herself having to take in a six year old drug addict for rehabilitation.

Other young women spoke out about not being protected as whistle-blowers when they report drug activity in their areas, while some called for activism in dealing with domestic abuse.

Advocate Mandlakazi Sifunda, who spoke at the session to offer legal advice, advised guests on laws they could turn to in cases of physical and emotional abuse, dealing with trespassing partners, harassment and stalking.

She said unlike before, women can now turn to the law to fight against harassment through a recently passed Protection from Harassment Act.

The dialogue session comes after President Jacob Zuma officially launched the nationwide 16 days campaign on Friday under the theme: “Count Me In: Together Moving a Non-Violent South Africa Forward”.

This year’s campaign also takes the form of the launch of National Dialogues on Violence Against Women and Children. President Zuma said the purpose of the dialogues is to use the information gathered and lessons learned to prevent the abuse of women and children and to raise awareness.

The Deputy Minister said various departments will, as part of the campaign, visit all the provinces to engage communities in regional dialogues.

“What is powerful about this message that we are sending across is the fact that fighting violence against women and children can’t [only be left up to] to the Department of Women. It is the responsibility of all the departments to integrate it into their programmes.”

Later, the Deputy Minister told SAnews that her department was particularly interested in the empowerment of women.

“As the Department of Human Settlements, we have set aside 30% of our budget for women contractors and we have also gone as far as training these women through the NHBRC in Johannesburg to be contractors.”

She said guests at the workshop had called for the training to also take place in Cape Town.

Source: South African Government News Agency.