Forum for women launched

Members of the Gatesville Womens Empowerment Forum, from left are Frances Pick, Fowzia Veerasamy, Henry Williams and Grace Julisen.

Women from Athlone and surrounds now have somewhere safe to talk about their problems and get help.

The Gatesville Women’s Empowerment Forum was launched, with five members, at the Rylands library late last month.

The forum’s Fowzia Veerasamy said it would hold workshops at the library every Thursday, from 11am to noon.

At the first, held last week, the women said social, safety, environmental and domestic issues were some of the topics they would like to discuss.

Ms Veerasamy said many female trauma victims did not seek help or advice, and the forum wanted to offer them a comfortable space to discuss sensitive topics such as rape and sexual assault.

“We will start with safety tips first and speak about how to deal with trauma and how to go about reporting cases. We will explain legal terms as the jargon can be confusing and intimidating. Every week we will have a speaker to address different issues.

“Our area really needs this, especially for women aged between 18 and 55, as there is already a youth and seniors’ group,” she said.

Many women grew up in broken homes and then found themselves facing domestic conflict because of underlying trauma, she said.

“That’s why we want them to make suggestions so that we know what they need. In that way they will feel part of the forum and its growth. For me as a female it’s important to reach out to other women to lend a helping hand and sometimes it is easier to speak to a stranger who doesn’t know your situation so that they can give you neutral advice,” she said.

Ward 46 councillor Aslam Cassiem said: “They need a platform and outlet just to be on their own without having to worry about children and grandchildren.

“They need this comfortable space to relax and take a break from day to day struggles which many of us don’t know about.

“Sometimes they are just looking for someone to speak to about their problems and seek advice from. It is very difficult if you are a person who cannot afford a psychologist and you need someone to speak to.”

The workshops are free. For more information, call Fowzia Veerasamy at 061 774 6547.