From the news desk

New centre for victims of abuse in Steenberg

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The Steenberg Community Policing Forum (CPF) has taken a stand against abuse by launching a new one-stop centre for women and children who are survivors of abuse. It comes amidst an influx of reports of domestic violence cases.

The Philisa Abafazi Bethu (PABs) offices has been designed to attend to those victims of sexual and physical abuse. A specialised unit will be allocated to prioritizing in child protection services and pre-legal clinic. These issues will be addressed by providing a call centre for victims and screen programmes educating youth on domestic violence. Cases of domestic violence reported include molestation, rape and beating of women and children.

The centre is run by Lucinda Evans, a well-known community worker and social activist. The launch of the PABs centre comes a few months after the Western Cape Department of Social Development (DSD) opened its Grassy Park local office in August.

Since 2009 DSD has moved from one head office overseeing 16 district offices, to one head office overseeing an expanded network of 6 regional offices and 37 local offices.

Evans says that women often come to them saying that the male perpetrators of these acts are unemployed leaving them to solely financially support their families.
These victims fall prey to abuse as their partners, fathers, husbands, grandfathers, cousins or stranger coerces them into non-consensual sexual acts.

Women and children who approach authorities for assistance often do not wish to report these cases as they have to return to broken homes.

“They tell us they have nowhere to go. They don’t want anyone to get into trouble or that they can’t leave their children without dads,” says Evans.

Reports of abuse often become quite lengthy as survivors are advised to attend trauma counselling and return to these homes. Evans says the specialised unit will assist in providing a safe haven for these victims.

“These women and children have someone to speak to and that is all they need. We want to try our best to assist these people out of their abusive circumstances,” says Evans.

The new centre is built on the grounds of its NGO partner CAFDA, and will provide a safe space for women and children who are victims of sexual and domestic violence to live freely and without fear. The centre will also support and educate women and children about their rights and freedoms, and provide support for women and children who are affected both directly and indirectly with HIV/AIDS.

In his short address, MEC Fritz paid homage to Evans for her dedication to assisting the community.

“The PABs was established in 2008 in support of women and children, and offers a variety of programs specializing in victim support and empowerment of young women and their children. These programs range from skills development workshops to trauma support groups and afterschool programs,” said Western Cape MEC for Social Development Albert Fritz.

The Grassy Park community has access to the services of five social workers, three social auxiliary workers, and an assistant community development worker, including working within NGO partners in the area, such as CAFDA and Cape Town Child Welfare. VOC

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