Working together to empower women and children through supporting shelters
In support of International Human Trafficking Day that took place yesterday, the Minister of Social Development, Sharna Fernandez, joined hands with the Western Cape Women’s Shelter Movement (WSM) during their annual review session, to discuss the ongoing Gender-Based Violence and human trafficking faced by women and children living in the province.
Minister Fernandez highlights: “The work done by organisations like the Women’s Shelter Movement is testament to how a whole-of-society approach is needed to overcome the many social ills faced by our most vulnerable people living in in our province.”
Shelters are residential facilities that accommodate victims of crime and violence, and their children, in a crisis situation where their safety is at risk. Shelters provide short term intervention for up to 3 months, or longer if the shelter has second stage accommodation available.
WSM strives to be the united voice on sheltering of women and their children affected by gender-based violence in South Africa. However, the major challenges threatening the shelters day-to-day operations include; a lack of financing and security concerns around protecting the victims from their perpetrators.
The Western Cape Department of Social Development, through its Victim Empowerment Programme, is responsible for providing victim support services that includes safe and secure accommodation, psycho-social support and empowerment of victims of crime and violence.
DSD is currently funding 16 shelters in the Western Cape that can accommodate victims and their children up to 3 months, and 4 emergency shelters that accommodate victims for up to two weeks.
The existing shelter funding model consists of unit cost, security, skills development and a social work/ social auxiliary work post. DSD has spent R25million on the shelters during the 2019/20.
Shelters provide for basic needs that include: safe accommodation, protection, food, clothing and emotional support such as trauma debriefing and therapeutic counselling provided by a social worker. To assist with reintegration, victims are also provided with skills development opportunities to assist with the economic empowerment of the victim.
Empowerment of the victim starts from the point of admission at the shelter, where the victim’s needs will be assessed including whether the victim has a permanent place of stay. The assessment report will influence the services or interventions conducted with the victims.
“We need to have a whole of society approach to deal with many of societies issues. In far too many cases we find that organizations, different spheres of government and other key stakeholders operating in silos. I’m trying to create coordinated responses among various stakeholders to ensure that we are far more successful in our efforts to fight against women and children abuse,” says Minister Fernandez.
Minister Sharna Fernandez, remains committed to gender equality and the empowerment of women, which can only be achieved through collaborated efforts, involving various stakeholders in society.