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Fighting GBV on the ground

Fighting GBV on the ground

A Durban crisis centre is trying to conquer gender-based violence from the roots up, addressing the core causes of the scourge.

The Ethembeni Crisis Centre in KwaNdengezi, near Pinetown, works with men, women and children to raise awareness, educate and offer help.

The centre’s monitoring and evaluation officer, Mzamo Biyase, said they were combating social ills one day at a time.

“We raise awareness and show the community we do not condone violence. We also work with stakeholders, schools and the public to show them they have a place to go to when they need assistance,” said Biyase.

The centre will take its campaign to the local shopping centre and Sassa payout points at the end of this month, coinciding with the annual 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (November 25 to December 10), set up tents and talk to young mothers.

“We speak to the young mothers who are fetching the grant because we have noticed that most of our cases are from young mothers. We have decided to reach out to young parents and offer advice on how to take care of their children, where to find us for assistance and meetings on avoiding child neglect to avoid more cases,” said Biyela.

One of the challenges the centre faces when dealing with these cases is the delay in investigations.

“When we and the victim give the KwaNdengezi Police Station our cases, they usually cite a lack of resources, cars and shortage of staff. Sometimes the victim gives up on the case. This also leads to victims being reluctant to report these crimes,” said Biyela.

One of the programme they run is for young girls from the age of 12. It teaches them about sexual health and the importance of abstinence.

The centre also understands that the fight against GBV must include men, so it has a programme for men to talk about their issues and receive counselling.

“We call the initiative Brothers for Life. We talk to young boys and adult men. We encourage men to report abuse and not to bottle up issues, because bottling up pain can lead to anger, resentment and drug or alcohol abuse. We also encourage them to talk about toxic masculinity and raising their sons to be helpful in (doing) the household chores and not to ignore their sons’ feelings,” said Biyela.

About 30 men from Chatsworth, Dassenhoek, KwaNdengezi and Klaarwater are involved in the Brothers For Life project.

The men also attend sessions called Ukubhodla with social workers to talk about their issues.

“We also go out with the men to speak to young boys at high schools and teach them to avoid the abuse of drugs,” Biyela added.

Programme manager Enele Zulu said they will be running pop-up information centres to encourage dialogue about child abuse at the Pinetown and Chatsworth Sassa grant buildings on November 25.

“We have noticed that children living with disabilities are neglected or locked up at home and they do not attend school. We will provide parents with the right counselling to deal with these issues and speak to them about special needs schools and how to enrol children there,” said Zulu.

On December 8, the centre will tackle child marriage.

“We decided to have this dialogue because there are many children in local primary schools who have been married off and who wear a doek as a symbol of their marriage with their school uniform. We have spoken to the local traditional leaders but they are not receptive since some are perpetrators and others are reformed,” said Zulu.

To get involved with the Ethembeni Crisis Care Centre contact abegail.siza@gmail.com or call 031 704 6860.

The Independent on Saturday

Original Article