Fight against abuse not over
Some 40 years after the ’76 revolt, women and children are still not safe, writes
provision of sheltering.
These included day-to-day needs such as food, clothing, and toiletries, as well as medical, psychosocial and legal services.
Although the provision of shelter for abused women and children is a state-legislated mandate and therefore the government’s responsibility, the research indicates state funding for shelters is inadequate.
Government funding for shelters is by and large provided by the Department of Social Development.
Such funds tend to be allocated to some staff salaries (a marginal contribution), facility maintenance and/or security, outreach campaigns, and client costs, which are calculated in terms of a unit rate per person. The unitary rate varies from province to province.
In the Western Cape, for example, the Social Development Department’s contribution to a particular shelter over the 2015/16 financial year was R49 a person a day. This contribution was intended to cover not only residents’ food, but costs related to other needs, such as transport and toiletries. The operational costs of running this shelter, however, exceed the departmental funding by 55%.
If shelters do not have the required funds, then they are not able effectively to provide those much-needed services. This has implications for women and children’s safety and security as well as their future prospects.
It also has implications for the sustainability of shelter services – an absolute necessity in a country with some of the highest levels of violence against women and children in the world.
It is imperative, during this Youth Month, that the government truly takes stock of how violence affects young South Africans and fully considers the short- and longterm costs to society as a whole (and the economy) if it continues to not adequately and effectively respond to this crisis.
There remains a great deal to be done to ensure that legislated and policy commitments are backed up by the requisite budgets to address the true costs of gender-based violence on women and children.
While we continue to remember and honour the youths who fought for their rights to freedom and justice in 1976, let us not forget, that today our fight for these same rights is far from over.
Lopes is a project manager at the Heinrich Böll Foundation, specialising in women’s rights activism, with a particular focus on violence against women. She manages the “Enhancing State Responsiveness to Gender-Based Violence: Paying the True Costs” project. She can be reached at Claudia.Lopes@za.boell.org
Students and supporters marched from CPUT Cape Town campus to Parliament to demand free higher education. The writer points out that the battle for the rights of young people is far from over.