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Women’s Day – and then?

“Zulpha came to us after her husband poured boiling water all over her body. She had third degree burns. Her face will be scared for the rest of her life. After staying with us for a few weeks, she willingly went back to her husband, ‘because he loves me.’ Sadly we see cases like this all the time,” Director of the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children, Shaheema McLeod said, on the eve of Women’s Day, which is celebrated across the country on Friday, 9 August.

While the country reacted in shock to the brutal rape and untimely death of Anene Booysen earlier this year, the one-stop centre for abused women and children sees cases like Anene and Zulpha’s almost every day. “Domestic violence in South Africa is far too pervasive. Over the past two years, the Centre has seen an average increase of 65% in the number of women and children seeking assistance. Each year we assist more than 6 600 clients,” McLeod said.

Situated in Manenberg on the Cape Flats, an area with extremely high rates of crime, gangsterism, domestic violence, child abuse, unemployment and substance abuse, the Centre provides services to a wide range of constituencies; neighbouring townships, farming communities and informal settlements. Over and above helping the immediate community, the shelter also assists trafficked women from other provinces and countries.

Together with other NGO’s, the centre underwent a funding crisis in 2012; just over a year later, they have successfully managed to keep their doors open, largely due to extra funding from the Department of Social Development. Further to this and as a result of funds raised over this time extra staff, including an Early Childhood Development practitioner, a children’s counselor and a social worker have been appointed.

“The threat of closure is always something that we need to be aware of – we are grateful to our current donors and welcome any future support. While Women’s Day is celebrated across the country, the real work lies in the other 364 days left in the year – we need as much support as we can get,” McLeod said.



Distributed by Be-cause Integrated Communications:

Beverley Houston

021 462 1723 / 082 824 8617

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