Centre has silent protest against abuse

The Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children hosted a silent protest against child abuse. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

The Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children held a silent protest against child abuse to mark Child Protection Week, on Monday June 3.

The centre offers a wide range of services for survivors of gender-based violence, including legal assistance, psychosocial counselling, an early childhood development (ECD) centre, a substance abuse unit, an outreach and education programme and an economic empowerment programme.

The centre recently opened a child protection programme for children who have been exposed or subjected to violence and abuse. This programme offers free counselling on an ongoing basis to children in the community.

They also conduct workshops at schools.

Bernadine Bachar, director of Saartjie Baartman Centre, said: “Abuse of children is a national crisis. The Western Cape had the highest rate of child murders in the country during the 2017/2018 reporting period – 279 children were killed. A national multi-disciplinary, intersectoral response is necessary to address the shocking rates of child abuse in South Africa.”

Kayla Horne, social worker in the Child Protection Programme at Saartjie Baartman, elaborates: “Every roleplayer such as government departments, non-government organisations (NGOs), schools and parents must take responsibility to combat child abuse. It is vital that referral pathways are strengthened to stop our children falling through the cracks.”

Siliziwe Mbambo, also a social worker in the Child Protection Programme, agrees: “Child abuse manifests itself in behavioural difficulties and impaired emotional functioning and cognitive ability. Children that have been subjected to abuse are vulnerable to developing depression and anxiety, suicide is also a concern. We can do so much more to assist these children if all roleplayers work together with the parents.”

The Saartjie Baartman Centre can be contacted at 021 633 5287 or email info@womenscentre.co.za