Jul 17, 2020

Door to Door Campaign

In light of anticipated increases in levels of gender-based violence (GBV) in connection with COVID-19 related restrictions and the corresponding lack of GBV services and ability of victims to access those services, LvA launched a large scale door to door awareness campaign to increase community awareness of rights, legal remedies and available services in cases of GBV

Prior to beginning the campaign, LvA facilitated training for 22 volunteers on GBV including types of violence, available legal remedies and support services for victims and COVID-19 including transmission, prevention, and procedures to follow when conducting outreach to ensure the safety of all volunteers and community members.

In June, LvA staff and volunteers began conducting two door to door campaigns per week. During each campaign, volunteers split into pairs for safety reasons and systematically engaged community members on a single street, either in their homes, shops, stalls or on the street, before moving to the next street. When engaging with community members, volunteers introduce the purpose of the campaign and share information regarding COVID-19, GBV, legal rights, remedies and available support services. Volunteers also engaged community members regarding the lack of post-rape medical care in the community and invite community members to sign the petition for these services. Lastly, Volunteers answered any questions and distributed printed materials with relevant information and contact details. At the end of each day, volunteers debriefed with LvA staff regarding any challenges encountered that day or any new questions which emerged.

To date, they have reached 4,780 community members throughout Diepsloot with information about their rights, legal remedies and available support services in cases of GBV and COVID-19.

Mar 24, 2020

COVID19-Implications for GBV victims in Diepsloot

On Sunday, 15 March 2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak. As we are aware, LvA’s beneficiaries are women who have been or are at risk of becoming victims of GBV. In our context, these victims are mostly black women and girls and may include women with disabilities, lesbian and bisexual women, transgender and intersex people and HIV-positive women. A large portion of our clients are also unemployed and are marginalised not only for their race and gender, but also for their socio-economic status. For people in the “high-risk” groups, those with chronic diseases, compromised immune systems, or the elderly, the COVID-19 virus will be deadly. Diepsloot is located approximately 40km from the Johannesburg city centre and financial hub, and it deeply lacks public infrastructure, including critical municipal services.  Both staff members and clients make daily use of public transport.  We know that the simplest way to protect ourselves and others from coronavirus is to limit contact. In order to safeguard the health of our clients, staff members and the larger Diepsloot community LvA will be closing the Diepsloot centre for the next few weeks.

For some of the women that we serve, the outside world is often safer than their own homes.  At its core, abuse is about power and control. When victims/survivors are forced to stay in the home with their abusers they may are vulnerable to further abuse. LvA recognises that social distancing and isolation may lead to an increase in incidents of gender-based violence and have put in measures to ensure that staff has been provided with the resources to work remotely whilst continuing to serve our clients. We will also be working closely with the Diepsloot GBV Forum to ensure that state actors are attentive to the risks towards women and children amid this outbreak.

LvA prides itself in its reflexivity and staff will be using this time to review their program areas to improve on how our mandate is carried out. In the interim, here are a few highlights from 2019 :

Direct Legal Services:

Provided direct legal services to 253 clients including comprehensive criminal case support for 127 clients, protection order assistance for 88 clients and legal advice for 61 clients.

16 perpetrators were convicted of attempted murder, rape, statutory rape, assault and contravention of a protection order, receiving heavy sentences for their actions including three life sentences, a 15-year sentence, two 12-year sentences and two 10-year sentences.

77% of clients who completed the process received final protection orders.  

Psychosocial Support:

Provided 138 clients with received psychosocial support including:

790 individual therapy sessions to 114 clients

130 sessions to 22 primary caregivers of minor clients which focused on psychoeducation, self-care and parenting skills

Group therapy to 24 clients in four groups: clients aged 12-14; clients aged 15 – 18; minors living with cognitive disabilities; and primary caregivers of minor clients

Facilitated four psychoeducational workshops for 18 caregivers of minor clients on understanding trauma and providing support for their children.

Witnessed as many clients rediscovered a sense of hope, confidence, trust, perseverance and self-esteem during their sessions.

State Actor Engagement:

Strengthened partnerships with local state actors including police, prosecutors, magistrates, healthcare officials, and social development via continuous and strategic engagement.

Created accountability in individual instances of misconduct at every level.

Built capacity through ongoing workshops - three workshops for the specialised Family Violence, Child Abuse and Sexual Offences (FCS) Unit and eight workshops for the Diepsloot Community Policing Forum (CPF) GBV Taskforce.

Continued to lead initiatives under the Diepsloot GBV Forum including advocacy around the lack of post-rape medical care, an anti-rape March to raise awareness around high levels of sexual violence and a Community Dialogue during the 16 Days of Activism.

Community Engagement:

Engaged 16,560 community members through 73 talks at two local government clinics, a monthly segment on a local community radio station, and talks at various stakeholder events.

Facilitated six workshops for community members with 20 to 67 participants per workshop.

Conducted a 12-month project in two Diepsloot primary schools to: 1) increase school capacity to more effectively prevent and respond to sexual violence; 2) increase accountability in cases of sexual violence in schools; and 3) cultivate an environment conducive to learners reporting instances of sexual violence in school or elsewhere. 

Despite ongoing challenges and obstacles, we press on, inspired by the words of one of our clients who had experienced domestic violence for over 15 years before approaching LvA for assistance. When reflecting on her journey with LvA, she stated:

“Challenges are still there… But I’m strong now to face my challenges without any fear. I am bold, strong, courageous, stable and grounded. Nothing and no one will stand in my way of reaching my destiny or goal… I am a changed person.”

With your support, we look forward to expanding our impact in 2020, reaching even more victims and ensuring that the justice system provides and effective and efficient response in all cases of GBV.

Dec 23, 2019

2019: Year in Review

In 2019, LvA made tremendous strides in advancing its mission to provide integrated legal and psychosocial support services to victims of gender-based violence (GBV) and to facilitate systemic change through strategic engagement with state actors and the communities in which we serve.

LvA provided critical legal and/or psychosocial support to 307 GBV victims, with 85 clients receiving both legal and psychosocial support. LvA supported 200 new clients who first came to LvA in 2019, including 17 family members of clients, while the remaining 107 are clients who came to LvA in previous years that continued receiving support in 2019. This reflects the long-term support that LvA provides to its clients.

See below for a brief summary of activities and outcomes achieved under each programme in 2019:

Direct Legal Services: LvA provided direct legal services to 253 clients. Specifically, LvA provided protection order assistance to 88 clients, comprehensive criminal case support to 128 clients, and legal advice only to 61 clients. Note that 23 clients received more than one form of legal assistance. For clients receiving protection order assistance, 100% of clients who submitted their application to court received interim protection orders and 77% of clients who attended their final hearing received final protection orders. In criminal cases supported by LvA, 16 perpetrators pled guilty / were convicted of various charges including attempted murder, rape, statutory rape, assault and contravention of a protection order, receiving heavy sentences for their actions including three life sentences, a 15-year sentence, two 12-year sentences and two 10-year sentences.  

Psychosocial Support: LvA provided psychosocial support to 138 clients, with 23 clients receiving both individual and group therapy. Specifically, LvA provided 790 individual therapy sessions to 114 clients and 130 sessions to 22 primary caregivers of minor clients which focused on psychoeducation, self-care and parenting skills. LvA also provided group therapy to 24 clients divided into the following four groups: adolescent clients aged 12-14 who had experienced sexual violence; minors aged 15 – 18 years old; minors living with cognitive disabilities; and primary caregivers of minor clients. Many psychosocial support clients experienced significant shifts during therapy and counselling, rediscovering a sense of hope, confidence, trust, perseverance and self-esteem during their sessions. LvA also facilitated four psychoeducational workshops for 18 caregivers on understanding trauma for primary caregivers in 2019. Lastly, LvA provided group therapy and psychoeducational workshops to an additional 70 community members in partnership with another Diepsloot service provider.

State Actor Engagement: Throughout the year, LvA worked to strengthen partnerships with local state actors including police, prosecutors, magistrates, healthcare officials, and social development via continuous and strategic engagement. LvA also worked to create accountability in individual instances of misconduct at every level and to build capacity through ongoing workshops. In 2019, LvA provided three workshops for the specialised Family Violence, Child Abuse and Sexual Offences Unit and eight workshops for the Diepsloot Community Policing Forum GBV Taskforce. LvA also continued to lead initiatives under the Diepsloot GBV Forum, working with both state and non-state actors. The Forum focused on the following initiatives in 2019: ongoing advocacy around the lack of post-rape medical care in Diepsloot, an anti-rape March to raise awareness around high levels of sexual violence in Diepsloot and a Community Dialogue during the 16 Days of Activism.

Community Engagement: In 2019, LvA educated approximately 16,560 community members through 73 talks at two local government clinics, a monthly segment on a local community radio station, and talks at various stakeholder events throughout Diepsloot. LvA also conducted six workshops for community members in partnership with another Diepsloot service provider, with number of participants per workshop ranging from 20 to 67. Workshops focused on GBV, gender roles, power dynamics and processes and procedures for protection orders and criminal cases. Lastly, LvA conducted a 12-month project focusing on addressing sexual violence in two primary schools in Diepsloot. Under this project, LvA worked to: 1) increase each school’s capacity to more effectively prevent and respond to sexual violence; 2) increase accountability in cases of sexual violence in schools; and 3) cultivate an environment conducive to learners reporting instances of sexual violence in school or elsewhere.

 
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