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Philisa Abafazi Bethu opens doors of healing for sexual assault, abuse survivors

Philisa Abafazi Bethu reached another milestone when the doors to its family centre officially opened. Lucinda Evans cut the ceremonial ribbon. The organisation advocates for the rights of women who are victims of violence. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

Philisa Abafazi Bethu reached another milestone when the doors to its family centre officially opened. Lucinda Evans cut the ceremonial ribbon. The organisation advocates for the rights of women who are victims of violence. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Nov 26, 2020

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Cape Town - The Philisa Abafazi Bethu (PAB) Family Centre officially opened yesterday with the theme of putting the lavender into Lavender Hill. The centre is the realisation of a 10-year-long dream of PAB’s founder and Lavender Hill activist Lucinda Evans.

Twenty-six brightly-coloured shipping containers are stretched across the field at Sullivan Park, Retreat and will serve as a safe house, administration offices, meeting rooms, a community hall, after-care centre, a neighbourhood watch and emergency rooms. The safe house shelter is for mothers and children and LGBTQIA+ survivors of rape.

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Acting US consul-general Will Stevens said they had been working with PAB for over a decade. “Gender-based violence (GBV) is not a South African problem; it is a global problem. It is a problem in the US and we can learn from each other; and to solve it takes partnerships.”

Social Development MEC Sharna Fernandez said the area previously served as a meeting ground for gangsters and drug users. “I was abused by an elder in the church and I never spoke about it for more than 40 years, until the man died. So I stand here in solidarity with women who have been abused and who are still victims.”

A special message was delivered by Queen Silvia of Sweden, in the hall dedicated to her for her support.

Philisa Abafazi Bethu reached another milestone when the doors to its family centre officially opened. Lucinda Evans cut the ceremonial ribbon. The organisation advocates for the rights of women who are victims of violence. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)
Philisa Abafazi Bethu reached another milestone when the doors to its family centre officially opened. Lucinda Evans cut the ceremonial ribbon. The organisation advocates for the rights of women who are victims of violence. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

Evans delivered an emotional speech, titled “I’ve come to take you home”, with her team behind her. “I want to say to all of you, be welcomed in this healing space. I declare it as sacred because what you see around here is more than colourful buildings in Steenberg; it is the calling from all our wombs, as women and as healers.”

Since its establishment in 2008, PAB headquarters had been in her home, with survivors resting in her children’s room, she recalled. She thanked her family for sacrifices made.

The centre was made possible through the support and financial backing of the US Consulate Cape Town, Polyoak, Breadline Africa, the City, Coca-Cola Peninsula Beverages, Rotary Club of Newlands and the World Childhood Foundation.

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