Women who rely on shelters took to the streets to protest for more help, women’s shelters are safe-havens for abused women and need more support.
Cape Town, South Africa – Dressed in black, with T-shirts on which was written #enoughisenough, about 30 women and men held a demonstration outside Parliament on Wednesday calling on the government to prioritise shelters for abused women and children nationwide.
The demonstration came as President Cyril Ramaphosa convened a joint sitting of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces on gender-based violence.
Kathy Cronje, director at The Safe House and deputy chair of Western Cape Women’s Shelter Movement, said “We need funding for shelters. We are desperately underfunded.” She said there was also a need for houses and jobs for women when they left the shelter.
“There’s absolutely nowhere for them to go and that’s why most go back to their abusive situations.”
Martin Gumpo, a children’s programme coordinator at St Anne’s Homes, an organisation for abused, destitute and pregnant mothers and their young children, said he was at the demonstration to show support for “our mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts, female co-workers, to say we have got to end gender-based violence”.
He said the biggest problems at St Anne’s Homes were lack of funding and space.
Waving placards reading “No means no”, “Respect her” and “Unsilence the violence”, the demonstrators sang and danced, as passing cars hooted in support.
In a memorandum addressed to Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu, the movement called for government funding to implement the recommendations in the Commission for Gender Equality’s Investigative Report on the State of Shelters in South Africa. The Commission recommended, among other things, a public hearing where heads of provincial social development departments, the director-general of the national Social Development Department and the director-general of the national Department of Human Settlements would account to the commission on funding for and functioning of shelters.
The Western Cape movement and the National Shelter Movement have also called on the government to cost shelter services and fund shelters adequately.
An emotional demonstrator, who is living at the Nonceba Family Counselling Centre in Khayelitsha, said her children had both been abused by their father.
“My daughter was raped twice, when she was five years old and when she was ten. And my son who is now 16 was also abused in the form of beatings and also rape.”
She said she had reported the crimes to the Site B police station in Khayelitsha, but nothing had come of it.