Forum seeks to establish women and children support group

Lieutenant Colonel Jeanette Jacks, Warrant Officer Joseph Swartbooi, Captain Wellington Mboniswa from Bishop Lavis SAPS, with Debbie Abrahams and Jacky Coetzee.

A Women’s Day programme hosted by the Bonteheuwel Development Forum has established a need for monthly support meetings – this after many spoke out about being directly affected by violence.

The event was held at Rosewood Primary School’s hall on Friday August 9.

The forum also invited SAPS, the Department of Social Development, the National Prosecuting Authority, the Institute of Healing of Memories, social workers, lawyers and other stakeholders to participate.

Chairperson of the Bonteheuwel Development Forum, Henriette Abrahams, said: “As the Bonteheuwel Development Forum we would like to thank the Claremont Main Road Mosque for coming to our aid to make this day possible for our women.

“In addition, we would like to thank our consistently hard working street committee members for all the hard work they put in to bring about change in our neighbourhoods. Our focus was to start a process of healing our neighbourhoods.”

Ms Abrahams and Zelda Holtzman facilitated the programme by working in groups to hear what makes women feel unsafe, and what they think can be done to change the situation.

“Women shared their stories on issues of violence and trauma. The life experiences shared were deep and expressed the urgent need for trauma counselling and mental health counselling as a first step to our healing. We resolved to have monthly support meetings and programmes and work towards establishing our neighbourhood Women and Children Safety Networks. Our programme brought to the fore the incredible amount of work that needs to be done around the issue of violence against women and children and its underlying causes such as unemployment, poverty and inequality,” Ms Abrahams said.

Tandi Rouse, the Western Cape co-ordinator of the #TheTotalShutdown Intersectional Women’s Movement, said one of their demands, is a 365-days gender-based violence campaign. Ms Rouse was part of a team who also attended and addressed the women at the event.

“We want the campaign to run every day, just like the government did with HIV and Aids. We want to see it on billboards, on television, print media and radio. The 16 Days of Activism is not enough. Things are being done, but we feel it is not being done quickly enough. We have not even touched women in rural areas. Our grandmothers need to be educated, so that they do not sweep things under the carpet. Those are the kind of conversations we need to have,” Ms Rouse said.