The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) is investigating public complaints raised about secondary abuse at gender-based violence shelters. On Monday, the commission announced that it would hold public hearings to get information about the state of shelters and hold all government departments accountable.
These public complaints follow an increase in gender-based violence in the country. The deputy chairperson of the commission, Tamara Mathebula said that based on these complaints, the commission had decided to go out to all nine provinces to investigate the state of the shelters.
Thereafter a preliminary report was conducted whereby it looked at the facility of the shelters, how the victims are accommodated and treated. She said that there was a common trend of secondary victimisation, lack of counselling and no facilities for women with children. The medical needs and psychological counselling for the victims were not offered at these shelters either.
The victims of these shelters who are predominantly women, were not accommodated accordingly. Mathebula said that women with disabilities, who had children or those that belong to LGBTQI communities were not taken into consideration.
The security and safety of the shelters were a point of concern by Mathebula who said that some shelters were placed in areas where the perpetrators could easily have access to the shelter and the victims.
The Department of Social Development is the primary funder of the shelters in the various provinces. In the preliminary reports, it was discovered that some shelters were fully funded while others were partially funded.
There was also a significant decrease in the annual funds allocated to the various shelters or a delay in the release of funds to other shelters. Therefore, proper resources and services could not be offered to victims, and this has a negative impact on their wellbeing.
The Commission of Gender Equality has planned a series of public hearings that will happen over a period of 3-6 months to address the root issues in shelters.
The Department of Social Development and the head of departments in all nine provinces will be held accountable for questions such as why funds were reduced or delayed to shelters. Other concerns of conditions of victims and admissions of shelters will be addressed.