DURBAN – NGOs in KwaZulu-Natal and other provinces across the country took part in the #EndDomesticSilence campaign which provides information, tools and the provision of more safe spaces to assist victims of abuse.
The initiative was launched in 2019 by the People Opposing Women Abuse (Powa) in partnership with Unilever tea brand, Joko.
Powa said the #EndDomesticSilence aims to make a significant impact in ending the silence around domestic violence by supporting victims of violence by ending their silence.
In KZN, several NGOs have been trained including the Social Workers’ Empowerment Training and Support (Swets) in Inanda and Ubukhosi Restoration Centre in Umzimkhulu, a rural farmstead area near Ixopo.
According to the SAPS, Inanda has the highest rape rate in the country.
The social workers organisation offers counselling and one-on-one mentorship to youth among other services it said.
Powa said the organisation’s mission is to empower social workers to provide services to communities through education, training and support to enhance their social functioning.
“The training will enable Swets to design effective, sustainable programmes together with Powa to better respond to domestic violence in Inanda and its surrounding communities.
“These will include various interventions such as monthly sessions with open, honest conversations on the causes of domestic violence and solutions to address it,” said Powa.
Swets head Nolizwi Potwana, said the NGO had gained greater respect within the community as a result of their partnership with Powa.
“Having to meet certain expectations through our partnership with Powa has motivated us to give of our best when it comes to addressing domestic violence.
“Powa’s training has also given us the strength and confidence to approach various stakeholders, like the SAPS and Thuthuzela Care Centres to partner with in tackling this scourge in our country. Our partnership with Powa has gained us greater respect within our community,” she said.
Powa further explained that the organisation had recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Swets that regulates the partnership.
This MOU highlights the guidance and support Powa will provide, targeted programmes to reduce domestic violence rates and various reporting obligations among others.
Potwana added that the partnership would assist Swets to encourage communities to end the silence around domestic violence.
“There is a high rate of incest in our area, but people don’t talk about it because they feel it will bring shame on the family.
“They regard it as a family matter to be swept under the carpet, especially if the perpetrator is a breadwinner. In some cases, women are told not to report abuse in the home to the police, but to rather consult a sangoma to sort out the issue,” she said.
Powa’s head of projects Kate Mocheki, said an objective of the training was to strengthen the active voice and agency of local communities in ending the silence on domestic violence, alongside other critical role players in government and civil society.
“The sector strengthening training aims to build the capacity of community-based organisations to better respond to domestic violence, while assisting them to offer women a safe space where they can speak out and share their experiences to receive the support they need to end their abuse,” she said.
Founder and Head of Ubukhosi Restoration Centre, Yolelwa Mbanjwa, said the organisation would run workshops on how women’s rights must be respected in polygamous relationships and the importance of women and girls having a voice.
“I want to empower them not to shut up, but to know they have the power to talk about their inheritance, abuse, what they want and who they are,” she says.
Ubukhosi advocates for women’s rights by challenging patriarchal practices and attitudes stating women, labelled as girls, can’t own large tracts of land or other assets or be executors of inherited estates.
As part of sector strengthening, Powa has provided Swets and Ubukhosi with posters and pamphlets featuring a wealth of information on addressing rape and domestic violence.