South Africa: Finding Shelter From the Abuse That Women and Children Face

Women march (file photo).

As the country celebrates Women's Day, we are forced to reflect on the question: What is the reality facing a woman living in South Africa today?

Rape, assault, physical and emotional abuse, harassment, murder, and kidnapping are some of the fears haunting women on a daily basis.

According to fact checking organisation Africa Check one woman gets murdered every four hours in South Africa.

The organisation says that data shows that when women murdered by intimate partners are considered, it points to one murder every eight hours.

Some of the horrifying cases that gripped South Africans in the past few years include that of slain University of Johannesburg (UJ) student Palesa Madiba and Karabo Mokoena.

Madiba went missing after she planned a weekend with her friend but never returned. She was later found buried in the backyard of her friend's house, two years after she was reported missing.

Meanwhile, 22-year-old Karabo Mokoena visited her partner Sandile Mantsoe at his upmarket Sandton apartment.

Her body left the building in a dustbin and was set alight by Mantsoe in an open field near Corlett Drive, Lyndhurst, in Johannesburg, News24 reported.

These chilling findings represent the stark reality of women who remain vulnerable in a country whose femicide rating is five times the global rate, according to President Cyril Ramaphosa at the first ever gender-based violence and femicide summit in November, 2018.

There is, however, a promising initiative in Diepsloot, north of Johannesburg which aims to break the cycle and contribute towards the eradication of gender-based violence and femicide in our country.

The Green Door shelter was established in 2013 by Brown Lekekela together with the then-Premier of Gauteng, Nomvula Mokonyane and then MEC of Community Safety, Faith Mazibuko during 16 days of activism, to offer refuge to abused women and children.

"The purpose was to have a temporary shelter for victims of domestic violence, rape and sexual assault to have a safe space where they can sleep, freshen up [and] have counseling after what happens to them," Lekekela told News24 this week.

Approximately 20 women go through the doors of Green Door per month.

"Most of the survivors come to the centre during month end and days after it. I can say I see more clients from the 25th to the 15th of each month," he added.

The shelter has seen 33 people break the cycle of abuse and stand independently within society.

But the initiative comes with its own challenges and is in dire need of financial support.

The shelter is currently surviving by selling donated old clothing and receiving donations.

"We want to build more room to accommodate more women. At the moment we have one finished bedroom with a bathroom and two rooms that are finished but don't have beds and blankets.

"We need beds, blankets, food, toiletries, a computer and a cell phone. We are also in need of a car to take clients to the police station and other professionals," he pleaded.

If you would like to learn more about the Green Door shelter, you can email Brown Lekekela: brownlekekela@gmail.com.

Source: News24

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