Women pour out their hearts at Famsa

These women of note are ready to reshape the lives of victims of abuse and gender-based violence in and around Khayelitsha.

In commemoration of Women’s Day, about 30 women from different professions, age groups and backgrounds met at the Khayelitsha offices of Families South Africa (FAMSA), to discuss their love relationships, marriages, divorces and other daily life challenges – including gender-based violence.

Lindokuhle Tyelo, a social worker at Famsa, said the meeting was about empowering women in dysfunctional marriages and relationships. “Instead of listening to political speeches, we decided to inspire each other,” she said.

“We decided to invite all women who are single, married, in relationships – dysfunctional or working.

“We thought we needed to hear victims of gender-based violence and those who have never had such troubles in their lives. By so doing we were able to come up with positive things.

“We even formed a support group where we decided to meet here thrice or twice a week.”

Those who attended included seniors who offered advice to young women the newly-weds.

The seniors did not mince their words, urging those who were being abused, not to stay in abusive relationships.

They said most young people remained in their relationships hoping for things to change, but ended up being abused daily.

Ms Tyelo called on women, with all kinds of experiences in relationships, to be part of the group. She said they were open to suggestions from victims and survivors.

Aretha Louw, from the Women’s Legal Centre, advised women on the different kinds of marriage contracts and divorce. She said most women were frustrated and felt that the criminal justice system had failed them.

Ms Louw praised women for raising pertinent issues and coming up with solutions. “It was healthy for women. They really gave insight to everything they were discussing. They put an ear to each other’s problem and gave very valuable advice,” she said. “Gatherings like this are needed. Women feel they need spaces where they can talk their minds.” She commended the seniors for directly addressing challenges faced by women.

“They were honest. They told us not to stay in abusive relationships, but to get out sooner (rather than later). They told us to learn to work for ourselves and be strong,” she said.