‘Communities must come together to fight gender-based violence’

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Government has called on communities to come together in the fight against gender-based violence.

This call was made by the Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu, who visited the families of several women and children who were victims of murders and rapes in KwaZulu-Natal recently. She was accompanied by Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and Disabilities, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.

They both condemned the ongoing killings of women and children in the country.

The ministers also visited shelters of those affected by abuse. This is part of an outreach programme focusing on the scourge of gender-based violence and femicide.

In recent months, South Africa has experienced a surge in gender-based violence cases.

Government introduces three key gender-based violence Bills:

The killings of a number of women by an alleged serial killer at uMthwalume on the KwaZulu-Natal South coast, grabbed the headlines.

In a recent incident at KwaMashu, two young friends were found shot dead execution-style. In the same township, a four-year-old girl was raped and stabbed to death allegedly by a 15-year-old relative.

The ministers visited areas that have been identified as hotspots of gender-based violence and femicide in KZN.

A victim of gender-based violence at a shelter in Phoenix, north of Durban, says she became homeless when she decided to walk out of her abusive marriage.

The shelter has seen an increase in the number of women and children seeking refuge from abuse during the coronavirus lockdown. It’s one of the places the two ministers visited.

Another victim says none of her family members were willing to help her.

“I decided to make that change to break the cycle right now because I don’t want history to repeat itself and him to do that in his life to someone else. So I went through the whole process of going to court, getting a domestic protection order against my husband and my families didn’t even want to intervene and help me with anything so I ended up here and in this place of safety and refuge,” says the victim.

One survivor says that she contemplated taking her life and that of her son as a means to end her pain.

Survivors of gender-based violence residing in Durban shelters share their experiences:

Government has amended laws to strengthen the fight against gender-based violence. However, the number of cases continue to escalate.

Minister Zulu says communities have an active role to play. She has called on communities to work with police and to oust perpetrators.

“They shouldn’t be quiet. They need to work together and deal with violence. It needs a united front exactly the same united front like fighting COVID-19. This is our call. Enough is enough; we can’t go on like this.”

The latest report by Statistics South Africa has shown that femicide was five times higher in South Africa than the global average.

Minister Lindiwe Zulu visits women and children’s centres in Durban: