Masibambisane Creating GBVF Free Zones, a new programme to curb and respond to the gender-based violence in Langa and surrounding areas, was launched on Thursday.
The programme is coordinated by the Foundation for Human Rights (FHR) which is currently working with 18 community-based organisations on the gender and social justice space to create these Free Zones in seven provinces.
FHR Programme manager for Vulnerable Groups Sarah Motha said in 2018/2019 FHR conducted six multi provincial workshops on the subject and since then Langa Advice Office has trained 10 GBVF monitors.
Langa Community Advice Centre Coordinator Anele Gqasana said they were creating these Free Zones to ensure accountability and that there was no impunity for violent crimes. He said the monitors were already on track to implementing the programme.
“Some victims are scared to go to the police station because of the labelling and the stigma that comes with being abused. These monitors will work as a link between the community and the police to ensure that cases are reported and prioritised.
Two weeks ago, the monitors apprehended a suspect and handed him to the police and last week, the monitors were in court to advocate for no bail for the suspect. We are currently working with four cases of gender-based violence. The monitors will also be working with local schools to train young men and women on self-defence, consent and peace clubs,” he said.
Gqasana said negotiations were on the way with the municipality for a safe house for the survivors.
Deputy Justice and Constitutional Development Minister John Jeffery said gender-based violence was a community problem. Jeffery, who spoke at the event, said it would be easier for the police and courts if men stopped abusing women.
“What we are trying to do as a government is to be able to provide services to people who are assaulted, and killed but these are only the symptoms. We have to ask ourselves as a community why are people doing this and how can it be stopped.
The appointment of these monitors is a good initiative and I hope the project will be effective. I will also be delighted to engage with them and see how the department can help with other government departments that are pro-actively dealing with gender-based violence,” he said.
Jeffery said people cannot rely on laws only to combat gender-based violence, but communities, civil society and religious institutions all have a role to play.