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How Action Society empowered women in Heideveld against GBV

Refilwe Moloto speaks to Action Society’s Ian Cameron about why part of their Women’s Day celebrations in crime-ridden Heideveld on the Cape Flats, was to teach women how to defend themselves.

One of South Africa’s most extreme pandemics is the prevalence of gender-based violence (GBV) and intimate partner violence (IPV).

On Women’s Day on Tuesday, Action Society hosted a training day workshop with women on GBV and what they can possibly do to prevent a situation from escalating into violence.

Action Society’s Ian Cameron says that one of the most concerning things he learned from the workshop was that 95 percent of the women in attendance have experienced some form of GBV with some even ‘laughing’ at the commonalities they had with some of the other women.

This is an example of the rampant normalization and desensitisation of GBV and IPV in a country stricken by story after story of the violence and abuse women in the country face on a daily basis.

However, Cameron says that he is noticing a mindset shift in communities that have normalized abuse, saying that some of the women in these communities are beginning to rise up and protest against this normalisation.

Reporting IPV and GBV to authorities can also be arduous because of the lack of support these women may receive from the police and legal system – often told to fix the situation on their own.

It just really feels like, often on ground level, whether it’s law enforcement or even prosecutors, sometimes, or even family members, it’s as though judge and jury is done across the board and victims just have to turn around and carry on.

Ian Cameron – Action Society

Action Society’s workshop against the normalization and prevention of GBV and IPV was broken into three pieces:

  • Discussions and illustrations on how to create physical boundaries and de-escalate the situation.

  • Educating the women on the different forms of GBV, the process of reporting the situation and detailing the different charges they can lay.

  • Teaching them small physical things they can do to create space between them and their perpetrator, what common household items they can use to do this, and a run-through of different scenarios to highlight that there are things they can do to get away from the situation or prevent it from happening entirely.

Find out more about Action Society here.

Listen to the full audio above.

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