Workshop puts spotlight on victims’ rights

Ilitha Labantu social worker, Zoliswa Mbekwa, explains the legal recourse which victims and survivors of domestic abuse could pursue in their quest for justice.

Victims and survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence are often in the dark about legal action they could take against their abusers.

It is for this reason that Ilitha Labantu hosted an informative workshop aimed at equipping the leaders in the community about legal advice and legal recourse open to survivors of abuse.

The workshop titled, Protecting survivors of sexual offences: The State’s obligation with regards to sexual offences in South Africa, was held at JL Zwane in Gugulethu last Friday.

The workshop was mostly attended by women who represent various community based organisations.

Ilitha Labantu social worker, Zoliswa Mbekwa, said they were equipping leaders of the community to understand the state’s obligation to victims of sexual abuse.

Ms Mbekwa said it is important that they understood every detail about the law and the processes that could be followed. Often, she said victims found themselves clueless about what steps they should take to make a case.

Through the workshop, she said they broke down all these terms such as rape, sexual assault, marital abuse and spousal abuse in an effort to make people understand their rights.

Ms Mbekwa said there was a misconception that when one was married or in a relationship he or she did not require consent from their partner to engage in sexual activity. When consent is not given, she said that could be against the law. And such workshops were critical in empowering people with their rights, particularly those who had been assaulted before.

Ms Mbekwa said the workshop was open to everyone but men did not usually attend such events. She said this was one of the organisation’s annual events events aimed at shaping the mindset of the community at large.

“Not everyone has the privilege of understanding the role and obligation of the law hence we have taken it upon ourselves to host such workshops. We felt that it is appropriate that we begin the year with such a workshop. When we host such events we want people to know where to report cases. We want them to speak up against any abuse they might be battling with. We want to minimise cases of domestic abuse and sexual assaults,” she said.

Talking about challenges, she said these were breaking the myths that the victim was to blame, including that women were questioned as to what they were doing out late at night and how they were dressed.

Through these workshops, the organisation wants to decrease the gruesome attacks on women and children.

Equal Education community liaison officer, Daphne Erosi, said these workshop are important and they consider them as an eye-opener. She said the efforts and fight against woman and child abuse should be intensified until such a day where there are no cases of domestic violence reported.

Ms Erosi said those fighting this scourge should never take a break because perpetrators were not stopping with their heinous acts of violence.