The fight against gender-based violence (GBV) in townships has received a boost with the reopening of the Ilitha Labantu’s Dorothy Zihlangu Transitional House in Langa on Tuesday.
The house, which has a capacity of 12 beds, recently underwent renovation and has been updated to accommodate the needs of survivors of GBV.
Ilitha Labantu director Ella Mangisa said the project took more than a year as they struggled to ensure that necessary funding was secured.
“The house was officially opened in 1998 after several years of intensive fundraising including several donations. During the establishment of this transitional house, there were limited shelters for abused women in the Western Cape and for us to have one in the township was significant.
“We, however, still struggle in the GBV space; it’s shrinking because there is no funding yet the scourge of violence is growing and the need for such safe spaces is getting greater.
“Once you talk about a woman entering a shelter (it) becomes a stigmatic issue, so we want it to be a comfortable space where they are valued – a home away from home where they instil their self worth and can rejuvenate,” said Mangisa.
Social worker Faith Peterson said shelters contributed significantly to women being able to find ways of exiting abusive relationships.
“The amount of limited transitional houses and shelters in South Africa represent a critical point in the crisis of society today. It is evident that there are deep-rooted systemic challenges that have brought about such challenges such as patriarchy and violence.
“The lack of or limited transactional and shelter houses need to be addressed at the highest level of institutions. They not only act as temporary homes but serve as a place of safety and hope, a place of transition and growth. They are a space where women and children are extremely vulnerable but yet powerful, in that they are guided and supported through the services and intervention that are offered.
“Therefore they are a crucial component that is needed in combating gender based violence,” Peterson said.
Ilitha Labantu founder Mandisa Monakali said the reopening of the transitional house was of significance to women in townships, who would be referred to available shelters that were far and were subjected to language and culture that was foreign to them.
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