Johannesburg – The National Shelter Movement of South Africa, in partnership with the Heinrich Boell Foundation and the Department of Social Development, hosted the second annual Shelter Indaba in Johannesburg. The Shelter Indaba focuses on how the war on gender-based violence (GBV) and femicide can be won and what more needs to be done.
The National Shelter Movement of South Africa is an umbrella body representing close to 100 GBV shelters. Fisani Mahlangu, Member of National Shelter Movement representing Mpumalanga province, considers the Shelter Indaba as extremely important in the fight against GBV and femicide.
“Gender-Based violence and femicide is considered a pandemic in our country. Hosting such an event annually is very important because it is an opportunity that brings different stakeholders from different walks of life like government, private sector and the civil society organisations. We all come together in one room to discuss these issues and find solutions or possible solutions and alternatives to how we can try and cap the stage of gender-based violence.”
Bringing together both genders to find a solution
Research has shown most victims of GBV in South Africa are women and children. It also shows those perpetrating these acts of violence are men. It is time to bring both genders together to find a solution. A solution can only be found working hand in hand.
“What we’re trying to highlight is that women are affected. Children are affected. If we look at it currently, those who are perpetrating such violence are males. However, we’re also trying to bring in an angle to say because it is gender-based violence, let us all come together. Both genders talk about this issue and find solutions. It is clear that the solution lies in us as humans, as citizens trying our best to make sure that we stop whatever it is that is causing violence in our societies.”
Overcoming the GBV pandemic
South Africa is notorious for its high levels of GBV acts. There are numerous reports daily of women who feel threatened or are attacked. To overcome this pandemic that is plaguing the country, all stakeholders need to come together and play their part, Mahlangu said.
“Government and those in authority have a very huge responsibility to ensure that they do their utmost best to try and cap the scourge … We have to start looking deep into our actions, looking deep into our commitments towards fighting and stopping gender-based violence. One of the resolutions and one of the agreements that are coming from different speakers … is we have to do something drastic to ensure that gender-based violence does not continue at this rate.”
For this to happen all stakeholders need to come together and pull their weight. Currently, this is not happening. There are important stakeholders who were not present at the Shelter Indaba which will hamper any efforts to stop GBV.
“We find that some key stakeholders including the police were not part of this Indaba. They did not attend and whereas we know that they are the custodians of safety and \security of citizens in the country. If they miss such an important event, it means then we are not yet at the time where we are all fully committed to fighting gender-based violence. We are trying as different stakeholders but as long as they’re not pulling together and working together like a smooth oiled machine, we’re all going to be complaining saying but the scourge is continuing, the statistics is rising because we’re not pooling together resources.”
The future of the country depends on eliminating this scourge
The future of this country is dependent on protecting everyone in society, especially the youth. Numerous studies have been done showing how a child who witnesses GBV in their home is negatively impacted. They often grow up to perpetrate such acts on women and the cycle continues.
“Once there is violence in a home, there is violence in a community and women are affected, it means even the offspring, the children that they are supposed to be looking after, they are affected. They cannot then provide that socialisation, that emotional support to guide and mould our children for the future.”
It is quite clear to see the future of the country rests on GBV being a thing of the past. However, for this to happen, all stakeholders need to play a part in ending this pandemic. Women and children deserve a better future than the ones currently being offered Mahlangu believes the Shelter Indaba can provide the country with the solutions it needs to end this pandemic once and for all.