Women's Day: Event focuses on domestic violence

2008-08-10 00:00

While Women’s Day celebrations held in many parts of the country were characterised by lunches, wine, song and dance, women in Pietermaritzburg gathered at Northdale FET College to remember Gail Papli, the masters student allegedly killed by her boyfriend in February this year.

The mood was sombre and most of those gathered were almost reduced to tears as a large framed photo of the Port Shepstone-born woman was unveiled.

Papli’s body, with stab wounds to the neck, was discovered by her boyfriend’s father.

Nivesh Doodla was charged with her murder and will appear in the high court on September 1.

Speakers at the function spoke highly of Papli, while others called for a tougher stance against the abuse of women.

Professor Mark Laing, UKZN chairman of Plant Pathology and Papli’s supervisor, said she was a dedicated student who had a promising future ahead of her.

“Other students responded well to her. She was very bright, learnt quickly and loved to debate. What I will miss about her, besides her dedication to her work and caring for others, is her laughter,” Laing said.

Director of the KZN Network of Violence against Women and a survivor of domestic abuse, Cookie Edwards, said incidents of women being killed by their partners have become regular.

Edwards also told of her own experiences, saying she was abused for 14 years and that people were reluctant to help her because they feared her partner.

“Abuse is hard to talk about; silence makes it even worse,” said Edwards.

She encouraged those in abusive relationships to seek help immediately or confide in someone who will not judge them and do something about it, because “domestic violence leads to murder”.

Not only was Papli remembered in Pietermaritzburg, even President Thabo Mbeki mentioned Papli in his speech at the Women’s Day celebrations in Polokwane on Saturday.

He said, “As we celebrate our women on this day, we remember Gail and many others whose lives were brutally snuffed out through unacceptable violence.”

thandom@witness.co.za

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Awards to honour Gail Papli

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