More support needed for shelters fighting the GBV pandemic
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Cape Town - The National Shelter Movement (NSMSA) has urged the government and corporates to recognise the key role shelters play in disrupting the intensifying gender-based violence pandemic in the country, despite being insufficiently resourced.
This followed NSMSA’s composite report titled Raising Women’s Voices in South African Shelters, which was released at their first-ever Shelter Indaba last week with support from the department of social development (DSD), which showed that although shelter facilities were under-resourced, they provided spaces for victims of abuse to rebuild their lives.
NSMSA executive chairperson Zubeda Dangor said: “It is hard to believe that it has already been 30 years since the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence campaign started and that for nearly half of that time, the NSMSA has been shouting, begging for more support for shelters without it coming.”
Over the years, South Africa became one of the world’s femicide capitals, with some of the highest gender-based violence statistics.
Dangor said without sufficient funding and support to help the many victims of gender-based violence, shelter teams were left despondent and burnt out.
Dangor said the Shelter Indaba helped the gender justice organisation identify its key priorities and opportunities for the upcoming year, one of which was that many women did not know about these places of safety and that it was imperative to ramp up advocacy for improved services and facilities for children.
The DSD delivered a collaborative presentation at the Shelter Indaba on Intersectoral Shelter Policy where Victim-Empowerment Programme director S’busiso Malope committed to forge an improved relationship with NSMSA and to support its work and the work of shelters going forward.
“This inter-sectoral approach, which we have long been calling for, is exactly what is needed to ensure that all relevant stakeholders, including government departments, are bound by law to play a constructive role in putting an end to the GBV pandemic ravaging our country,” said Dangor.
The Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children director Bernadine Bachar said: “Shelters are in dire need of financial support both from government departments and from the private sector. Without this assistance, we are simply unable to offer survivors the services they sorely need.”
Over the past 22 years, the Saartjie Baartman Centre managed to assist more than 230 000 women and children survivors of GBV. Yet, their funding deficit after government stipends amounted to some R6 million annually.