Private dwellings have been turned to crime scenes instead of a safe space for women and children. Perpetrators have gone as far as violating from toddlers to pensioners.
While the province is still trying to come to terms with the femicide tragedy instigated by an alleged serial killer the statistics of Gender Based Violence (GBV) continue to be on the rise.
To give support to victims, Non Governmental Organizations (NGO) work together with the provincial government to offer victim support. Ekuphumleni (which means a place of peace) Restoration home also known as Thy Rest is one of the organization that advocates for non violence against women and children and offer support on different levels to victims.
Victims and survivors are left with life time effects resulting from GBV related activities. A lack of trust becomes core on who to share abuse with, more often, victims are subjected to secondary abuse by society and law enforcement which leaves them with psychological/ mental health battle. Victims are left to sometimes opt for suicide prompted by anger and pain.
Women and children in other cases are left with unwanted pregnancy and contracting HIV as a result of abuse, because of trust deficiency and often blaming themselves for a perpetrators act, some never report the matter to authorities and family.
The pregnancies resulting from rape forces mothers to constantly be reminded of how they were violated because they feared to report the case to the family as at times family members such as uncles, cousins and even fathers are the ones committing the act.
Research has proved that the is a link between GBV and alcohol. Some perpetrators uses it as a defense for their action and many reported cases are always based on two parties consenting to the intercourse while if they were in their sober mind, they will have not made any consent
The perception that, for a women to end up being a statistic of murder and rape is because they provoked the perpetrator remains on the mind of those that still believes that no person can be raped if she wore appropriate or if she did not send mixed signal of inviting the act.
The myth is escalated by unemployment where women are expected to be raped as a renumeration to getting a job while others a lured to be made to believe that they will get employment while they are at a risk of being human trafficked and killed by those they believed will be their potential employers.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual & Transgender (LGBTQ+) are not immune to the rape and murders, they are often killed and raped to correct their sexuality as it is believed that there is something wrong with how they identify themselves.
Government is working together with NGOs and universities to offer support to those that are affected. Last year University of Limpopo (UL) has launched a gender desk as part of victim support to students. There are calendar days such as 16 Days of Activism Against Women and Children that the province is actively raising awareness. The GBV and Femicide summit that was held in the last three months in Polokwane, The Ranch Hotel to get inputs form various stakeholders on how to tackle the femicide nightmare.
SAPS has improved their victim services by implementing victim empowerment programme to prevent secondary victimization. This allows victims to report the abuse in a safe space and not in the font line where they used to que with other people seeking different services.
The space is a dignified room that allows the domestic trained personnel to deal with the case in a more dignified and professional manner. The safe space restores trust and confidence to victims.
By: Emmaculate Cindi