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Khulisa launches a national 16 Days of Activism programme for victim empowerment

Khulisa Social Solutions, an award-winning NGO recognised for its peacebuilding and restorative justice work, has launched a 16 Days of Activism programme focused on victim empowerment. This programme has been informed by research from their four victim empowerment centres that indicate the dire need for increased support for GBV victims. The majority of GBV victims felt that they did not get the support through local police services and therefore seek support through alternative avenues.

“Immediate health and personal safety support for GBV victims is crucial. Equally important is ongoing psychological support, care and victim empowerment to support a victim’s healing process,” shares Lesley Ann van Selm, managing director of Khulisa. “We often find the GBV victims that enter our victim empowerment centres, once healed from their trauma, go on to host their own GBV support groups or start thriving businesses. This is why victim empowerment is an important part of the healing process.”

Khulisa’s 16 Days of Activism programme will take place in a number of communities identified as GBV hotspots according to SAPS, including Alexandra, Carletonville, Ekangala, Hammanskraal, Roodepoort, Rustenberg and Mitchell Plain. The programme is packed with educational talks about GBV prevention measures, routes to address domestic violence, men’s dialogue circles, talks about children’s rights, support and healing groups, door-to-door awareness campaigns and motivational talk from past victims.

“Our 16-Days of Activism programme has been designed with the intention to impact communities and victims of GBV, as our victim empowerment programmes have,” says van Selm. “The centres, positioned in Moffatview, Johannesburg Central, Langlaagte and Sophiatown, have been successful in providing places of safety and increased knowledge for victims around coping mechanisms and their rights in seeking justice.”

At Khulisa’s Johannesburg Victim Empowerment Centre, more than 80% of victims reported an increased ability to cope with their situation, increased feelings of well-being and an improvement in their safety situation. In Moffatview, 80% of victims that took part in the research survey reported that they were given necessary emotional support they needed to help them cope with the immediate crisis.

A victim that sought help from the Sophiatown Victim Empowerment Centre said that she was in constant dispute with her neighbour and experienced frequent verbal and emotional abuse from her. “I realized that this would be a continuous cycle that would not end, that is when I decided to report to the Sophiatown Victim Empowerment Centre where I requested a peace-making and mediation service. On the day of the session, the social worker welcomed us and explained her role pertaining to the session. My neighbour and I were able to be honest with each other about what is acceptable and not regarding the way forward. The session was necessary, and it had good outcomes.”

Through their Victim Empowerment Centres, Khulisa continues to focus on rolling out victim trauma response, support and healing interventions that many GBV and abuse victims rely on as their only avenue for support and safety.  “Our 16-Days of Activism programme will support the work at our centres to create more awareness around the importance of victim empowerment. As GBV remains a national crisis, we urge the public and businesses to support our work at the centres through funding and resource mobilisation,” shares van Selm.

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