‘Just raising awareness is not enough’

2019-10-09 06:01
Nareshnie Maharaj says more needs to be done if we are to have an impact on gender-based violence.PHOTO: supplied

Nareshnie Maharaj says more needs to be done if we are to have an impact on gender-based violence.PHOTO: supplied

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FOLLOWING the ongoing killings of women and children in South Africa, Nareshnie Maharaj of the Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action (Pacsa) decided to share her experience with domestic violence in an attempt to inspire victims and survivors while offering them emotional support.

Maharaj, who got married in 1999, said she was exposed to verbal and physical abuse throughout her marriage.

“My story is ironic because I work for a non-profit organisation that focuses on gender-based violence, so it’s not like I didn’t know what was happening to me.

“At the time I diverted all my energy and focus on reading the word and wrote to God about my daily experiences,” she said.

Maharaj said she feels that the marches aimed at raising awareness about gender-based violence and vigils being held are simply not enough anymore.

“Yes, it helps but it does not stop a death. Globally, we are not proactive. Mentality shifts have not occurred.

“The protection order, in my opinion, is just a piece of paper. It means nothing when you are staring down the barrel of a gun,” said Maharaj.

She emphasised that abuse victims and survivors need more spaces to share their experiences and more shelters need to be made available for when women feel threatened.

“Families need to take abuse seriously and never cover up for anyone or try to protect reputations. Our hope is to live in a free and just society that brings peace to all mankind,” said Maharaj.

Although Maharaj got divorced in 2013, she said post traumatic stress disorder is another demon survivors have to deal with.

Furthermore, she said that, since society is mostly reactive when death occurs, she feels everyone in society needs to go down on their knees to ask for a supernatural intervention.

“Religious institutions need to be made more aware of what gender-based violence means,” said Maharaj, who added that, during her own experience, involving herself with people connected to initiatives tackling GBV helped her as well as speaking to her pastor, who stood by her.

“It’s now 2019 but I only managed to get over my fear of this man in 2018 after many sessions with the psychologist. Raising awareness alone is just not enough,” said Maharaj.

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