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Children playing outside a shelter for abused women and children
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June 16th is a day for deep introspection when the country honours and celebrates young people who had the courage and determination to rise up against the apartheid state 41 years ago. There is however little to celebrate in light of the excessive levels of violence and sexual abuse being perpetrated against children and the youth in our country every day. June must therefore also be a month in which we ask some serious questions about what role government plays in ensuring a strong democratic South Africa for future generations.
Woman at a shelter for abused women and their children. The shortage of shelters has real effects. When filled to capacity, shelters have no choice but to turn women away, which means they will either be forced to return to their abusive partners or risk homelessness
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South Africa has had a Domestic Violence Act since 1998, but its critics say the law is ineffective. Women & Girls recently spoke to Claudia Lopes, project manager of the Heinrich Boell Foundation, about the challenges of tackling domestic violence in South Africa and what needs to be done to ensure women can leave abusive relationships quickly and safely.
Engender Resource Kit

Engender is a television series focussing on feminism, gender issues and related concepts. The first 3 episodes of the pilot series explored the concept of feminism; feminism and intersectionality; and gendered representations in the media. The Engender Resource Kit mirrors the episodes and was developed from research undertaken for the series.

Queering Cape Town

Cape Town is oft labelled the gay capital of Africa. For a great number of its LGBTIQ citizens however, the city remains a cryptic and rather inaccessible space.

Conversations on violence against women

More than twenty years into democracy acts of violence against women have not visibly decreased in South Africa. This publication unpacks the many inter-related factors that continuously contribute to high levels of violence against women and hopes to contribute to more strategic and collaborative action.

Woman at a Mpumalanga-based shelter for abused women and their children
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Stakeholders working to combat Gender-Based Violence question to what extent the 2017/18 budget reflect government’s commitment to effectively meet the true costs associated with addressing violence against women and children.
Nomarussia Bonase

By honouring Nomarussia Bonase with this award, the jury of the Anne Klein Women’s Award 2017 acclaims the work and commitment of a South African activist who tirelesly advocates for women’s rights, gender democracy, reparation and reconciliation. Nomarussia Bonase is a role model to many.

Resident at a Cape Town shelter
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While the holiday season brings quality family time, it also brings out a more sinister side of many households. According the provincial branch of the National Shelter Movement (NSM), the season is a time of increased risk of domestic violence and intimate partner violence.

One of the Participants at the AIR
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125 queer Muslim activists and allies from around the world gathered outside Cape Town in October to build a movement encouraging inclusive interpretations of Islam that honor and respect their identities in full.

Violence Against Women

Violence against women is a significant problem that profoundly affects the physical and mental wellbeing of those affected. While medicolegal interventions in South Africa have been firmly established to respond to sexual offences, no formal protocols on intimate partner violence interventions at primary healthcare level are in place yet.

Survivors of domestic violence rely on shelters for safety and support navigating the system
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Domestic violence survivors rely on shelters to help leave life threatening relationships – and navigate the obstacles of the criminal justice system.

National Shelter Movement of South Africa

Shelters for abused women play a critical role in providing protection, care and psychosocial support to those affected by Gender-Based Violence. The Domestic Violence Act (1998) enshrines the state’s obligation to provide survivors of abuse with shelters, but whilst the act is a crucial piece of legislation, the provision of sheltering services has not been without its challenges. HBS Project Manager Claudia Lopes recently spoke to SAfm about a new project which aims to support state accountability for adequate and effective provision of domestic violence survivor support programmes, specifically those associated with the provision of shelter for abused women.

Saartjie - on Domestic Violonce
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June is notable for having two commemorative days dedicated to younger persons: International Children’s Day1 on the 1 st of June and South Africa’s Youth Day on June 16. Sadly, however, there remains very little for young people in South Africa to celebrate, particularly in the light of excessive levels of violence and sexual abuse directly targeting or negatively impacting young persons.

In a new project launching tomorrow (Friday, 20 May) – Enhancing State Responsiveness to Gender-Based Violence: Paying the True Costs – the National Shelter Movement (NSM) of South Africa joins forces with the Heinrich Böll Foundation (HBF) Southern Africa to keep the spotlight squarely focused on domestic violence in South Africa (SA) and how government interventions meet the diverse needs of survivors.

Heinrich Boell Foundation programme manager, Paula Assubuji
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Gender-based violence, and in particular violence aimed at women, cost South Africa between R28.4 billion and R42.4bn for the period 2012/2013. This, according to a KPMG report, “Too costly to ignore – the economic impact of gender-based violence in South Africa”, represented 0.9 percent and 1.3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), respectively.

With this edition of Perspectives, the Heinrich Böll Foundation seeks to unpack some of the underlying tensions and challenges facing the promotion of sexual and reproductive rights on Africa.

Mural painted by members of the Heinrich Böll Foundation
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Cape Town - A striking mural in Khayelitsha about the abuse of women has had an unusual effect on residents, who say they want more paintings depicting the problems facing their communities.

The mural in Makaza was created in 2013
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Following the creation in 2013 of a mural about abuse of women, Makhaza residents have suggested other murals should be built focusing on rape.

Feminism and the womens media
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Women’s magazines have long faced critique for their often narrow and conceptualized portrayal of women and the impact that this has on the consumer. A study conducted in America for example found that reading a women’s magazine for merely three minutes negatively affected the self-worth and self-esteem of 70% of women who participated in the study. In this paper, feminist researcher Joy Watson and Heinrich Böll Foundation Programme Manager, Claudia Lopes explore some of the ways in which women’s glossy magazines depict harmful messages and images that detract from eradicating gender inequity while also bringing to the fore some of the ways in which magazines have empowered and helped women re-define themselves over different periods in time.

Section of a mural developed by the Heinrich Böll Foundation in Khayelitsha, Cape Town
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Following the death of Anene Booysen in February 2013, the Heinrich Boll Foundation undertook a study to examine the response from government, the media and society to the death of Anene. This study entailed conversations with community activists. A key finding of the study was that the statistics on rape and violence against women and girls do not paint a complete picture of the extent of gender-based violence in the area.

What we do

Realising substantive gender equality in South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe has been challenging. Progressive legislation and policies have not always been translated into effective government programmes. Some of the gains that have been achieved are being threatened by rising traditionalism and reactionary populism. Lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people and communities in the region remain disadvantaged, stigmatised and excluded from many aspects of economic, political and social life.

Public and political awareness-raising and the prevention of gender based and sexual violence are therefore core focus areas of our work. We also partner with key civil society actors as well as public and religious thought leaders to effectively challenge homophobic policies, legislations and attitudes.