VIPs praise new home for abused women and kids

SA ambassador to Sri Lanka Rubina Marks delivering the keynote address during the launch of the Masimanyane Women's support shelter. Picture: MARK ANDREWS
SA ambassador to Sri Lanka Rubina Marks delivering the keynote address during the launch of the Masimanyane Women's support shelter. Picture: MARK ANDREWS
Even more abused women and children can find safety and hope at the newly-launched place of refuge offered by Masimanyane Women’s Rights International.

A new five-bedroomed home was purchased at a cost of R2.3-million by Masimanyane after a donation from the National Lottery Commission (NLC).

The organisation had been leasing a smaller house to accommodate abused and destitute women and children for at least three years.

NLC distributing agent Portia Loyilane, who is the former commissioner for the Commission for Gender Equality, said they were excited to be part of a solution to a crisis.

“It’s humbling to be part of such an organisation and to have an impact on the lives of many victims of abuse, whom we know will be transformed through the shelter,” she said.

Scores of women from various organisations rallied in support of the international organisation at East London’s Osner Hotel yesterday, where the new shelter was launched in the presence of dignitaries and sponsors, including the South African High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Rubina Marks.

Marks praised the director of Masimanyane, Lesley-Ann Foster, and her team for expanding their services to take more women and children under their wing.

“Violence destroys. It scars. It takes away opportunities.

“It creates a fear, where we lose our power in silence. In some instances women become infected with HIV, contract STIs, all because of the fear of saying ‘no’.”

“Men have a role to play. They need to be the ones to stand against each other first. We need to think about how we frame gender roles in the minds of our children and we need to fight for women to have access to better jobs and equal pay,” she said.

“The birth of the shelter will deconstruct patriarchy among the women and strengthen their coping skills. It is one of many much-needed safe havens for one in three women who are raped and abused.”

Marks continued: “Patriarchy is universal. It is engraved in young boys and girls at a very young age and that is something we need to change in the future generations. We need to break the cycle of how boys and girls think, and it all starts at home.”

Gender Equality commissioner Nomsisi Bata said although South Africans had a “beautiful constitution” it was shocking to see what women were subjected to within the constitutional democracy.

“There are so many young girls and women having their rights violated, and it’s sad to see that throughout the country we have 97000 forced into marriage – 27000 of them from the Eastern Cape,” she added.

“There are not enough organisations like Masimanyane, and the need for shelters like the one we are launching is crucial in our society, because women need to know there are people out there who care,” she said.

ANC MP and human settlements portfolio committee chairperson Nocawe Mafu said she had sponsored a room in the house in honour of her grandchild who died in an accident in December.

“I have sponsored a children’s room in his honour, to allow other children that may need to go to the shelter to feel at home and to have all their needs catered for.” —

mbalit@dispatch.co.za

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