CGE of­fers free le­gal ad­vice

Vuk'uzenzele - - General - Dale Hes

A CON­STI­TU­TIONAL en­tity man­dated with build­ing a so­ci­ety free from all forms of gen­der op­pres­sion and in­equal­ity is within reach of South African women.

Vic­tims of gen­der-based vi­o­lence of­ten suf­fer in si­lence. They may be un­able to pay for le­gal as­sis­tance, too fear­ful of the con­se­quences of re­port­ing the crime, or un­e­d­u­cated about the govern­ment laws in place to pro­tect them.

The Com­mis­sion for Gen­der Equal­ity (CGE) reaches thou­sands of these women, pro­vid­ing free le­gal ad­vice and ed­u­ca­tion about gen­der rights, through le­gal clin­ics held across the coun­try.

“The le­gal clin­ics ed­u­cate and in­form com­mu­ni­ties on leg­is­la­tion re­lated to equal­ity and gen­der equal­ity. They also pro­vide le­gal ad­vice or make le­gal aid avail­able to un­der­priv­i­leged peo­ple who suf­fer any form of gen­der dis­crim­i­na­tion,” said the head of the CGE’s le­gal depart­ment Marissa van Niek­erk.

CGE of­fi­cers host or con­duct the clin­ics at venues where ac­cess by mem­bers of the com­mu­nity is easy and con­ve­nient.

“Con­duct­ing out­reach, ad­vo­cacy and le­gal ad­vice clin­ics is the pri­mary way to pro­vide ac­cess to jus­tice for peo­ple who have ex­pe­ri­enced any form of gen­der-re­lated dis­crim­i­na­tion,” Van Niek­erk said.

In the 2017/18 fi­nan­cial year, 162 clin­ics were hosted across all nine prov­inces. The clin­ics also of­fer a safe space for vic­tims to re­port gen­der-based vi­o­lence and find the as­sis­tance they need. Through these clin­ics, a to­tal of 174 files were opened re­lat­ing to cases of gen­der dis­crim­i­na­tion. Van Niek­erk says that the cases ranged from women be­ing dis­crim­i­nated against due to preg­nancy, to ob­tain­ing do­mes­tic vi­o­lence or­ders that pro­tect vic­tims from their abusers.

In De­cem­ber 2017, the CGE held an out­reach and le­gal clinic in a ru­ral Lim­popo vil­lage. A case of (force­ful mar­riage) had oc­curred in the area, and a 14-year-old girl was res­cued from the clutches of her ‘hus­band’.

“Any­one is wel­come at the clin­ics. I en­cour­age peo­ple who want to at­tend to con­tact their pro­vin­cial CGE of­fices to find out the dates and ar­eas where the clin­ics are held. Vic­tims of gen­der dis­crim­i­na­tion are also able to make an ap­point­ment for a con­sul­ta­tion with a CGE of­fi­cer.”

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