WHILE statistics continue to paint a chilling picture of South Africa as one of the most violent places in the world for women to live, a national study of shelters for abused women and children suggests that when adequately supported, shelters significantly contribute to women exiting from abusive relationships.
“Enhancing State Responsiveness to Gender-Based Violence (GBV): Paying the True Costs” is a three-year study – being done in partnership with the National Shelter Movement of South Africa (NSM) and the Heinrich Böll Foundation (HBF) – which confirms that services such as shelters, have a positive impact on the lives of women, and their children, seeking reprieve from domestic violence and other forms of abuse.
Claudia Lopes, project manager at HBF said: “Shelters provide essential services to these survivors – ranging from a safe space to live to a host of other practical, psycho-social, health and legal support services such as the provision of daily meals, toiletries and clothing; assisting with helping women to access health care; assistance with applying for protection orders, following up on domestic violence cases, assisting with divorce and maintenance issues; assisting with applying for social grants and renewals of identity documents; provision of skills development and job seeking support services; and provision of care and support for the children who access the shelters with their mothers. Shelters also help cover residents’ practical and day-to-day costs, where possible.”
Zubeda Dangor, a director of a shelter for abused women and the head executive member of the NSM, attests to the importance of shelters in ensuring that women and their children are kept safe from domestic and intimate partner violence. Dangor suggests: “If you are experiencing violence in your home and need a safe space to live contact the NSM [details provided below] or contact your nearest police station. They should be able to provide the help and advice you need, such as referring and transporting you to an available shelter nearby. The shelter is an opportunity to re-group and figure out what to do next. All shelters operate 24/7, 365 days a year.”
You can also contact various 24-hour helplines such as Lifeline’s Gender Based Violence hotline – toll-free from a landline, 0800 012 322 or 0800 150 150 – or the Department of Social Development’s Gender Based Violence Command Centre, which also operates through a toll free number 0800 428 428 (0800 GBV GBV). In addition to providing information and referrals to support services, these helplines also offer telephonic counselling for those who have been physically, emotionally, sexually or financially abused.
If you or someone you know needs a shelter please contact the relevant NSM provincial representative who will be able to provide you with help to access a shelter.
NSM Shelter Representatives per province:
|Eastern Cape||Mercy Cwayi||042 293 3985
072 692 8392
|Free State||Sarah Lekale||057 353 2865
072 144 7171
|013 935 8032
083 684 7737
Executive Head of the NSM
|011 854 5804
083 289 8818
|KwaZulu-Natal||Sabera Timol||031 207 6483
072 446 3337
|Limpopo||Nobesuthu Carol Javu||015 223 0091
073 174 9185
NSM Executive Member &
|013 243 2732
079 310 9633
|Northern Cape||Rosaline Bailey
|053 631 4379
072 444 3095
|Western Cape||Joy Lange
NSM Executive Member
|021 448 6792
071 906 3949