CAPE TOWN. – The NGO 1000 Women Trust has entered into an agreement with a Citrusdal-farmer to utilize a portion of his citrus farm to build second-stage housing for women who are victims of gender-based violence and to embark on an ambitious project to build a training centre on the farm which will serve as an empowerment hub for the women.
The project is the brainchild of Tina Thiart, founding member of 1000 Women Trust.
The Trust provides solidarity to women, amplify the voices of activists and advocate for change that can end gender-based violence and femicide. The Trust does this through projects, grants, training, and fundraising initiatives to ensure that women and girls are empowered, inspired, educated and equipped for daily life.
“I am committed to assisting victims of gender-based violence who were housed at shelters but after their rehabilitation, were forced because of economical reasons to return to the home of the perpetrator or the home of their mother-in-law, with their former husband staying just around the corner,” Thiart said.
“The objective of the second stage housing is to provide accommodation to survivors of domestic violence ready to break away from the cycle of abuse. Staying in these houses is seen as a stepping stone towards victims achieving a more stable and peaceful living free from abuse. Second stage housing is affordable housing solutions for vulnerable women survivors of gender-based violence,” Thiart added.
Gender-based violence in South Africa has been described by Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa is the country’s second pandemic. In the 2019/2020-period, a total of 2695 women were murdered by their intimate partners, which means that femicide is committed every three hours. From October to December 2020, 12 282 women were raped in South Africa.
“The farmer has donated the 80 hectares of ground on his farm to 1000 Women Trust so that we can build second-stage homes for about 200 women, who will then be able to work in the food processing industry on the farm. Not only will there be employed, but there will also be transport for their children to schools nearby. We also plan to facilitate the building of a training center on the farm with the assistance of the farmer to empower women who are victims of gender-based violence,” Thiart said.
Thiart a tireless gender activist committed to combat gender-based violence in South Africa the past two decades, was one of the founders of 1000 Women Trust. On her 65th birthday on 1st April, she has identified secondary housing for victims of gender-based violence as one of her goals for the next five years.
The other goals are renewed focus on the anti-bullying campaign in schools and the #MakeTime-campaign in South Africa.
Thiart said 57 % of South African learners have been bullied at some time during their high-school careers. The 1000 Women Trust developed an anti-bullying toolkit to assist learners, teachers, and schools in addressing bullying. “When one considers that we have 2.2 million school-going children in this country, these percentages of bullying translate into truly staggering numbers.
“About 90 % of the bullies end up becoming the perpetrators of gender-based violence later on in life, so the anti-bullying toolkit is vital for schools,” Thiart said.
“The past week we had several calls from schools in the Cape Peninsula to request that 1000 Women Trust support them with their anti-bullying campaigns at school.
“Last week, 100 teachers in the Western Cape region completed a trauma training course with 1000 Women Trust to assist them to be a safe space for learners who had been subjected to bullying or forms of gender abuse,” Thiart added.
1000 Women Trust launched a major national #MakeTime-campaign at the end of last year to urge parents to make a pledge to make time to speak to their sons to teach them about consent, boundaries, and respect for women – and thereby joining the cause of fighting against the horrific levels of gender-based violence in the country.
The campaign centres on a children’s doll – Krissy doll – that appears to have been brutally assaulted, exhibiting the hallmarks of domestic violence. In a digital film, two young girls are playing with the doll, putting make-up on its face to cover up cuts and bruises. The Krissy Doll is a donation of how women cover-up or hide abuse or violence that is inflicted on them.
By showing a potential future in which little girls accept battered and bruised dolls as if this were the norm, 1000 Women Trust is hoping to shock South Africans into having critical conversations with their sons.
Thiart said 1000 Women Trust is committed to rolling out the #MakeTime-campaign in schools as there is a growing interest by primary schools to make it part of the curriculum for life-skills training.