Western Cape to have highest number of GBV shelters
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Cape Town - The planned opening of an additional six shelters for gender-based violence (GBV) victims in the province has been widely welcomed.
The first shelter will be opened on Friday in the Central Karoo, and the other shelters will be located in the West Coast, Hessequa and Heidelberg. This will bring the total number of shelters in the province to 26.
The chairperson of the Standing Committee on Social Development, Gillion Bosman, said this was the highest number of dedicated shelters in one province in the country.
“We look forward to the opening of the first shelter on the 26th of this month in the Central Karoo, where there currently exists no other such shelter. We also support that the Women’s Shelter Movement is included in maintenance of proper norms and standards for these safe homes,” Bosman said.
Cape Winelands activist Chalmane Kruger said the province had a lack of safe houses, as this has not been a priority for the local or the national government.
“Safety shelters should be prioritised with the adequate and efficiently trained staff appointed to help prevent more women and children being murdered every day, especially in cases where the police refuse or ignore the cry for help in many homes filled with high levels of violence.
“The availability of some existing homes and their outreach policies and procedures should also be revisited. Some of them ignore the terrified cries for help due to the victim’s personal safety despite assistance requests and applications made even via therapists,” she said.
Kruger said shelters should also be brought closer to rural areas where women and children on farms were experiencing violence and abuse.
Western Cape Women’s Shelter Movement chairperson Bernadine Bachar said the new shelters will support survivors in the rural areas of the province where services are not readily available.
“Shelters offer critical support to survivors of gender-based violence aimed not only at responding to the needs of survivors, but also at the prevention of gender-based violence. Programmes at shelters include legal protection, psycho-social support, economic empowerment and support for the children of survivors of gender-based violence.
“The extension of services to the children of survivors is crucial in ensuring that these children are freed from further violence by breaking the inter-generational cycle of abuse. The Women’s Shelter Movement will be assisting the new shelters by fulfilling a mentorship role to new staff members,” she said.
Bachar said adequate funding of shelters by the national Department of Social Development continued to be a challenge.