Helping victims to become survivors

23 July 2013

Gauteng Social Development MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza on Monday launched the “From Victimisation to Survival” campaign, which calls on companies, communities and civil society organisations to adopt centres for abused women and children in the province.

Abuse “should not happen for a second time”, Mayathula-Khoza said at Monday’s launch ahead of South Africa’s Women’s Month in August.

Mayathula-Khoza explained that the campaign aims to place the spotlight on the rights of abused women and children, while doing something concrete to help improve their lives.

“Contributing to improving the lives of women and children can be achieved by adopting a centre for abused women and children, contributing dignity packs, school uniforms, clothes and food on regular intervals,” she said.

It could also be achieved by buying goods and services provided by cooperatives managed and owned by survivors of abuse.

Gauteng province currently has 234 homes for abused women and children with a capacity of 592, and is currently accommodating more than 300 women and children. Most of the shelters are run by non-profit organisations (NPOs) and funded by the department.

Mayathula-Khoza stressed the need to empower victims of abuse by providing them with access to services and opportunities available in government, business and civil society.

“Their empowerment may be defined as having or taking control, being listened to, being recognized or respected as an individual, and having the right to make choices and to be respected by others,” Mayathula-Khoza said.

“We seek to restore the loss or damage caused by criminal acts and their consequences through a variety of actions intended to empower the victims to deal with the consequences of violent acts and abuse.”

Mayathula-Khoza said that victims’ needs had to be met through a well-managed, integrated, multidisciplinary team approach.

“Experience shows that empowering victims in a holistic manner reduces secondary victimisation, encourages co-operation with the criminal justice system, reinforces socially desired behaviour and acts as a deterrent to offenders or potential offenders.

“Victim empowerment thus has the potential to prevent and reduce crime and violence as well as to enhance the effectiveness of the criminal justice system.”

Source: SANews.gov.za