Zululand Observer - Weekender
LifeLine stats: 17 000 women suffer abuse
DESPITE sterling attempts to turn the tide, the number of women being raped and abused in the region shows no sign of declining.
And the thousands of victims who have responded to counselling efforts may just be the tip of an appalling iceberg.
Speaking at LifeLine Zululand’s 31st annual general meeting last Thursday, Director Michelle Jewlal presented statistics that paint a dismal picture of the challenges facing social workers and lay counsellors who, however, remain fully committed to making a meaningful difference.
In the past year, LifeLine implemented a number of projects on behalf of funders that combined gave thousands of victims and survivors access to help and counselling.
The organisation’s largest programme in terms of both number and geographical reach, is the Victim Empowerment (VE) programme, supporting victims of rape, sexual assault, crime and violence.
Currently funded by the Department of Social Development (DSD) and supported by the AIDS Foundation of South Africa (AFSA) and PEPFAR (the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief), the programme reached a total of 9 352 clients in the year in review.
A further 678 sexual assault and rape victims received psychosocial support and counselling from LifeLine Zululand social workers based at the Thuthuzela Care Centre at Ngwelezana Hospital.
Thanks to an additional DSD funding grant, the VE programme expanded to new service points based in SAPS victimfriendly rooms at KwaMsane, Hlabisa, Hluhluwe, Jozini, Ingwavuma, Mkuze, Ndumo, Manguzi and Mbazwane.
Crisis centres were also opened at Manguzi Hospital and Hlabisa Hospital, while ‘White Door’ shelters – community-based temporary safe facilities - were established at KwaMsane
and Pongola, based at Belgrade near the Swaziland border.
Funded by AFSA , LifeLine continued to spearhead HIV/Aids and Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) initiatives, which include challenging social stereotypes and decreasing stigma around gender roles and responsibilities.
A total of 6 979 victims of IPV were reached in the past year, of whom 5 051 volunteered to be screen tested for HIV/ Aids.
LifeLine Zululand also assisted in implementing the Young Women and Girls Cash Plus Care programme, funded by CINDI (Children in Distress Network).
This promoted healthy lifestyle choices, sexual health awareness, entrepreneurship and selfsustainability.
The programme enrolled 8 639 beneficiaries, of whom 6 422 remained active after completing 11 workshop sessions.
‘It’s been a busy, productive year,’ said Jewlal.
‘Added to the above, we also provided our free telephone, face-to-face and email counselling.
‘It is interesting to note that the statistics continue to be dominated by relationship issues as couples, parents and families take strain.
‘In addition to a committed staff, we are grateful to sponsors and donors for their support in the past.
‘We are in fact, limited by our funding and my wish is that more corporates will come on board to use our professional services on offer or pledge donations to support the organisation to build and maintain sustainability going forward.’
LifeLine Zululand connected with over 17 000 targets of rape, sexual assault and intimate partner violence during the past year