Fight against abuse not over

Some 40 years af­ter the ’76 re­volt, women and chil­dren are still not safe, writes

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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

PIC­TURE: DAVID RITCHIE

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.

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