Published:  12:35 AM, 21 May 2019

Women empowerment event addresses abuse

Women empowerment event addresses abuse

Nondumiso Masina

Social workers, the police, health promoters and pastors addressed Mabopane residents on women and children abuse last Saturday.The event was organised by Palesa Kgotse (26) who is passionate about gender-based violence against women and children.

Kgotse said the purpose of the event was to raise funds to open a centre that provided abused women and children skills development and care."I have seen how women and children have been abused in our society and have no place to go. My desire is to create a place of safety for powerless women and children.

Most women are not aware that they are in abusive relationship which is why I called professionals to educate us," said Kgotse.Sergeant Ntombizodwa Maphanga from Reitgat police encouraged women to walk away from abusive relationships.Maphanga also urged young women and girls to take their time before committing themselves to romantic relationships.

She referred to reality show Ufelani (Why did you die), about men who kill their partners."The police are working tirelessly in dealing with cases of abuse," Maphanga told the crowd."Some people are psychopaths. You find a relationship being so toxic to the extent that the woman is even afraid to get out of that relationship with the threat of being killed. Women you are beautiful, never allow anyone to take that away from you," said Maphanga.

Social worker from an organisation that works with victims at various police stations, People Against Abuse, Hilda Mkhwanazi highlighted that hate crime against the LGBTI community was on the rise. "Most lesbians and gays are being raped by our community members with the mentality that if you rape them, they will change," said Mkhwanazi.
Mkhwanazi said it was important for women to support their children.

"As a mother, you should protect your child and learn to understand them as they grow. In some cases, it is easy to see from an early age that your child might be gay or lesbian. If you cannot notice it, still it is important to support your children. Mothers should love and support their children on the journey of finding themselves and in any decision they make," she added. Business woman Nonhlanhla Mokwena shared her story on how her abusive relationship changed her life.

"I was raised by my harsh and strict grandmother. At the age of 12, I accepted Jesus my Lord and saviour and wanted to serve the Lord. Months after that, I was raped and suffered memory problems that forced me to drop out of school in grade 7," said Mokwena.

Mokwena said she thought marriage would be the solution."I was married at the age of 21 and I was blessed with four children. My problem was my husband abused me financially and I ended up filing for divorce," she said."I went through counselling to deal with my issues. As we speak, I have my own business selling curtains. I was unable to even speak English and taught myself with my children who attended multiracial schools. I now enter board meetings and present my business plans," she said.

Health promoter Angie Maleswana spoke about self-inflicted abuse."Women hurt themselves most than being hurt. Self-inflicted abuse is when you bottle in what troubles you. This may result in stress and depression. As a woman, the first thing you must do in a new relationship is to know each other's health status so that you know what you are dealing with."

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