Posts Tagged ‘domestic violence’

A scathing slap across the face, followed by another. As she falls, she tries to protect the child on her back. The man kicks her, over and over again. He walks away and she’s relieved that her routine beating is over- little did she know that this time, it would be different. As she stands up, preparing to take the screaming baby off her back, she hears him approaching her- which is odd, as he always leaves after beating her. She looks up and without realising what is happening, her baby let’s out a piercing scream; which would be his last. Her partner had returned with a hosepipe to finish what he had started and had accidentally hit the child on his partner’s back- a child who was his flesh and blood, a child who died at his hands. This is just one of the many realities in the Rooigrond Informal Settlement, where Domestic Violence is rife. Many scenes like these play themselves out on a daily basis and unfortunately, the end result is always tragedy.

Despite this endless occurrence of tragedy, the silence about this reality from victims; authorities and every other stakeholder in the matter is quite alarming. As such, we took it upon ourselves to hold all those involved accountable and ensure that our team is adequately empowered to support victims and their families and also to share what could be life saving information with the community. On the 5th April 2011, when POWA hosted a Domestic Violence Imbizo in Lonely Park, Mafikeng, with all stakeholders participating, we ensured that members of our team participated; sharing the problems experienced in Rooigrond; alerting SAPS to the lack of response at their end; pointing out the lack of social support for victims and starting a move for co-operation with all present, to ensure the eradication of this evil lurking in our society. It was a great day and all information gathered is continuously ploughed back into the community.

Considering that, “many women are still unaware of their rights when reporting abuse and even informed women traumatised by an assault are unlikely to be assertive and insist on their rights. Many women are afraid of further violence from the perpetrator if they attempt legal action. This is even more compounded by the introduction of the new Domestic Violence Act which a lot of women have not yet grasped…”, we hope that through our continuous efforts to support and share information with the community, in time this too shall be overcome.

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“Children often pay the highest price when many negative attributes are prevalent in families, communities and nations. As such, we are morally obligated to ensure the eradication of attributes, which create environments that are risk factors for our children…” Koketso Moeti

Without a doubt, there is no single cause that can be named for child neglect/abuse. We also cannot deny that child neglect/abuse occurs across socio-economic, religious, cultural, racial, and ethnic groups. Despite this, there is no doubt that certain factors within families, communities and nations put children at a higher risk of being neglected and/or abused. However, it should be noted that this does not mean that the presence of these factors will always result in child abuse and neglect. The factors that may contribute to neglect or abuse in one family may not result in child abuse and neglect in another family.

These factors include:

– Substance Abuse, as it can interfere with a parent’s mental functioning, judgment, inhibitions, and protective capacity. Parents significantly affected by the use of drugs and alcohol may neglect the needs of their children, spend money on drugs instead of household expenses, or get involved in criminal activities that jeopardise their children’s health or safety. Also, studies suggest that substance abuse can influence parental discipline choices and child-rearing styles;

– Lack of knowledge about normal child development, which can result in unrealistic expectations;

– Domestic Violence, as children in violent homes may witness parental violence; may be victims of physical abuse themselves and may be neglected by parents who are focused on their partners or unresponsive to their children due to their own fears and

– Poverty and unemployment, which when interacting with other risk factors such as depression, substance abuse, and social isolation—can increase the likelihood of both child neglect and child abuse.

With all these factors being rife in the Rooigrond Informal Settlement area and with cases of neglect and abuse being on the rise, we realised that intervention was necessary.

On the 22nd March 2011, the day after Human Rights Day, we hosted a ‘Child Protection’ themed Human Rights Day information sharing centre in the Rooigrond Informal Settlement area. Stakeholders involved in the protection of children, were invited to provide the community with information about child abuse and neglect, as well as their various roles in eradicating it; assisting with it and where they are based. The information sharing session also allowed the community to learn how to access services provided by the state at no cost, with the aim of protecting children. Stakeholders who assist in the eradication of some risk factors for children were also invited to participate in the event.

The session which was attended by, The Office of the Family Advocate; the Child Protection Unit; the Commission for Gender Equality, as well as the Independent Complaints Directorate. It was the first time ever in the Rooigrond Informal Settlement, that so many stakeholders got together in a united, concerted effort to secure the protection of children. The community came out in numbers, eager to be a part of the process of empowerment.

Through empowerment and access to information, we ensured to bring the rights, safety and protection of our children to the fore. With children being our greatest resource, we will continue to build partnerships that ensure they are protected.