Eastern Cape women’s rights cham­pion

Vuk'uzenzele - - General - Siya Miti

GIV­ING VUL­NER­A­BLE women the chance to im­prove their lives.

Dr Les­ley Ann Foster has a pas­sion for women’s rights and her legacy is mea­sured in the pos­i­tive feed­back she re­ceives from the peo­ple whose lives she has touched.

Ear­lier this year, Dr Forster – who founded Masi­manyane Women’s Rights In­ter­na­tional – in­ter­vened in a case in­volv­ing do­mes­tic worker Phumza Kadeni, whose baby girl was taken away from her by her em­ployer. The case was made more com­plex be­cause the em­ployer is a mag­is­trate who had bonded with the baby. When Kadeni took her baby back, she was ar­rested. To add to this a so­cial worker had re­port­edly writ­ten a re­port say­ing that Kadeni’s shack was not suit­able for a baby and the courts gave her daugh­ter back to the em­ployer.

“I was fu­ri­ous when I heard the story. Since when does be­ing poor dis­qual­ify a woman from be­ing a mother? I wrote to the mag­is­trate, quot­ing in­ter­na­tional and do­mes­tic law and high­light­ing that it is in the best in­ter­ests of the baby to be with her mother. I made a very strong case and the baby was re­turned home,” said Dr Foster. Dr Foster started Masi­manyane in 1996, af­ter work­ing with street chil­dren for seven years and re­al­is­ing that it was of­ten an un­favourable home en­vi­ron­ment that forced them to live on the streets. Masi­manyane has a 10bed shel­ter in East Lon­don which pro­vides a sanc­tu­ary for fe­male vic­tims of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence and their chil­dren. “We pro­vide tem­po­rary ac­com­mo­da­tion, meet ba­sic needs and of­fer coun­selling and life skills pro­grammes,” she said. Masi­manyane is funded by the Depart­ment of So­cial Devel­op­ment and em­ploys about 42 peo­ple. It also of­fers med­i­cal and le­gal ser­vices and 24-hour coun­selling.

Dr Les­ley Ann Foster founded the Masi­manyane Women’s Sup­port Cen­tre and is known as a cham­pion for women's rights.

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