People Opposing Women Abuse's (POWA) Legal Advisor Teboho Mashota. Picture: Supplied.
People Opposing Women Abuse's (POWA) Legal Advisor Teboho Mashota. Picture: Supplied.

Fight against gender-based violence needs funding - Powa

By Amanda Maliba Time of article published Sep 2, 2021

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People Opposing Women Abuse's (POWA) Legal Advisor Teboho Mashota. Picture: Supplied.

People Opposing Women Abuse (Powa) has recently relaunched its legal department, committing to availing services that will encourage access to justice, breaking the cycle of abuse and encouraging survivors to speak up.

The organisation that has been around for 42 years had to shut its legal department doors two years ago due to financial constraints but it has now recommitted to making sure women receive legal services, so ensuring that their human rights are recognised, protected, promoted, and fulfilled, while also providing education through outreach sessions, talk shows and training on women's rights.

It will also provide legal channels to follow if these rights are violated as well as ways in which women can protect themselves.

Powa’s Legal Manager, Disemelo Tlali, said organisations unfortunately still have to go out there to seek funding which makes it difficult to have long-term goals to fight the scourge and eventually put an end to gender-based violence, which also indicates how "GBV is not a priority in the country".

“We have seen GBV cases escalate during the national lockdown in 2020, which is a serious concern. GBV is indeed a pandemic but the question is: are we doing enough to stop it? As Powa, we do not believe our government is doing enough to stop GBV, hence the escalation, lack of remorse by perpetrators and even still witnessing horrific cases related to GBV. It is important to revive the legal department to provide support to the multitudes of women and girls who are victims of GBV,” said Tlali.

"To get the work started, the legal team has already started going into communities to bring services closer to those who need them the most and has opened an office at the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court, and in the Domestic Violence Court to assist survivors.

“There is a lot of work that has to be done. The very same efforts that we make as a country in investing in our economy, we need to invest in protecting women and girls.

“With our legal team, we are not starting from scratch but from experience. We have seen the need to revive the legal department through the daily inflow from the clinical department. We are a three-way stop, we provide not just clinical support but legal support as well. Furthermore, our other main focus is on survivors’ economic empowerment,” added Tlali.

To ensure the long-term running of the legal department, Powa has appointed a fundraiser whose core focus is to raise funds that will assist in sustaining the department.

On winning the fight against GBV, Tlali said: “It is a work in progress and even though there is a lot to be done we are moving towards the right direction - the first point being that we have the three Bills which will change how some of the issues will be dealt with around GBV. The legal team will deal with a wide spectrum of domestic violence cases while also working on numerous sexual harassment matters.

Consultations with the Powa legal department can be done either face-to-face or telephonically at no cost to survivors.

To contact the Powa legal department, you can email [email protected] or call (011) 642 4345/6

Sunday Independent

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