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‘Something is terribly wrong in society’
Kamesh Victim Support Centre volunteers (from left) Nomhlobo Dambuza, Virginia Demingo, Sandra Smith with in Nombeka Sitshana (project manager) in front. Absent: Sydah Kramer. Photo:HEILIE COMBRINCK

“WOMEN in South Africa are in danger. There is something terribly wrong in our country the way women are being killed and violated by men. Women do have a voice, but it is not loud enough when it comes to speaking out against gender-based violence (GBV) and domestic violence.”

This is according to Nomhlobo Dambuza from the Kamesh Victim Support Centre in Uitenhage. She also said the lockdown highlighted serious social issues in their area, with cases of domestic violence, gender-based violence and rape being abnormally high and seemingly out of control.

“The fight against domestic violence won’t be won in this century. We can speak about gender-based violence till Kingdom come, but for as long as the law enforcement, our leaders, women in parliament and decision makers are not serious enough about these human rights violations, there is not much that we on ground level could do.”

Victim support centres, like the one in Kamesh, are, however, fulfilling a major role in their communities. They are on the receiving line, the watchdogs of GBV, they do not judge, they help, educate victims about their rights, refer them to professionals and give them hope for a better future. They also encourage women to go through with court procedures especially when it comes to protection orders.

“Everybody knows about GBV and domestic violence, but myths about these violations are counteracting awareness programmes. Some people still do not want to talk about it. They think it is a bad thing to come out and say they are victims of domestic violence. Society has an impact on victims not to come out,” said Dambuza.

“Unfortunately, some beliefs and cultures run by men are the feeding grounds of GBV as they state that women should be submissive. They have the mentality that since I am a man, I can do what I like, which is not true. Why should it be a given in some churches or cultures to force women to submit? Are those men feeling threatened?

“Few men, unfortunately, are involved in the fight against GBV. We need more men to come forward and support us. Let’s face it, there are women who also make themselves guilty of GBV, but they are by far the minority.”

Nombeko Sitshana, Kamesh Victim Support Centre project manager said, “Domestic violence affects all living in such a violent environment. The children normally go out with a deeply rooted anger and will bully their friends.

“This is because they think the environment they grow up in, is how life should be. Therefore, education is key to breaking this vicious circle of human rights violations.”

Virginia Demingo, a volunteer at the Centre, emphasized the importance of education. “Women do not know their rights. It is an eye-opener to see them coming here, full of fear and desperately looking for help, though clueless about their rights. Therefore, victim support centres have a crucial role to fulfil in society. We need to educate and empower women.

“What is worth applauding is that we have seen some wonderful success stories of women, who through empowerment, have left destructive relationships and are now living constructive lives,” said Demingo.

According to Dambuza, representatives of government and even social development should visit victim support centres, experiencing first-hand at ground level the battered women that come to these centres for help.

“Sometimes we also need counselling, as what we see and hear are gruesome and very disturbing. But we need to be strong. Our core function is to help the vulnerable, the women and children in desperate need owing to violence at home,” said Dambuza.

Our community has had enough

On November 25 the Centre will host a programme “Our Community Has Had Enough” in support of 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children. The campaign annually runs from November 25 to December 10.

Donations of sanitary pads, toiletries, food needed

The Kamesh Victim Support Centre is in dire need of sanitary pads, toiletries for women, non-perishable food for victims, soft toys for children who are victims of domestic violence and rape. They wish to thank Savalot Stores and Gamble Pharmacy for their continued support and donations.

  • Kamesh Victim Support Centre is situated at the Kamesh Police Station and is open during weekdays from 08:00 to 16:00. Their weekend emergency contact numbers are: Nombeka Sitshana (project manager) 083 813 5296 or Sandra Smith 071 637 8595.
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