Too many victims withdraw case

2017-12-05 06:00
Advocate Hishaam Mohamed from DoJ & CD, Shaykh Abdul Khaliq Allie and Shaykh Riad Fataar from MJC during the press conference PHOTO: AISHAH CASSIEM

Advocate Hishaam Mohamed from DoJ & CD, Shaykh Abdul Khaliq Allie and Shaykh Riad Fataar from MJC during the press conference PHOTO: AISHAH CASSIEM

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“Did you know that 90% of the cases attended to by the social workers of the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC)’s social development department are related to abuse?”

This fact was highlighted by Shaykh Fadihl Emandien, who heads the unit, during a press conference held on Tuesday morning.

It was attended by various local and governmental groups with the hopes of raising much-needed awareness of gender-based violence.

Representatives of the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), department of justice and constitutional development, Western Cape Religious Leaders Forum and Ihata Shelter for Abused Women and Children were amongst those who gave spoke on the day.

Emandien’s talk came ahead of a silent interfaith march in Athlone on Wednesday morning. The march was hosted by the MJC in partnership with various civil society organisations to mark the 16 Days of Activism campaign. Other organisations that supported the march included the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children, Sonke Gender Justice, Rape Crisis and Islamic Relief South Africa.

Rev Chris Nissen of the SAHRC said on Tuesday 20% of children were killed in gang violence while the other 80% were murdered by relatives or close friends of the family.

“Our people watch from a distance as it happens. The Western Cape has lost just over 60 children thus far [this year]. Enough is enough. I support this campaign and believe that faith will be used to unsettle and break down this wall. We did it with apartheid and we can do it against the scourge of violence against women and children,” he said.

“The problem we face in society, especially with domestic violence, is that out of many communities, Mitchell’s Plain has the highest rate of domestic violence but also the lowest rate of prosecution. This is because people normally throw the case out, withdrawing it against their partners because of economic and other abuse. If they continue with the case, then who will support them? This is how they think and this is one of the key issues we need to­ ­address.”

Nissen said organisations and the government needed to continue standing together to empower women and to create a support unit for families.

“We find that even children are abused in their households but they keep quite. It is important for us to have sustainable programmes to change the mindsets of the people. This could change their behaviour as well. We need to bring back old values,” he ­added.

Khadija Patel Allie of the MJC’s women’s forum said on Tuesday violence against women and children was a pandemic in the province.

“Gender-based violence is a silent, insidious serpent that is cutting through all barriers of society. It does not discriminate and affects the young and old, the rich and poor, no matter race, social status, political affiliation or religion,” said Allie. “We can only address this issue in society when we choose to identify and acknowledge the enormity it has on communities. We can no longer be complicit in this terrible crime.”

Adv Hishaam Mohamed of the justice department said despite sacrifices made by women for women, help was still being denied because of abuse.

“What does it mean for the dignity of women if she is abused, assaulted and broken down emotionally? What does it mean for life if that life is taken through murder? There are 55 courts in the province, and 50 105 new domestic violence cases for interim protection were brought in this new financial year. This is a 3% increase on the previous year,” he said.

“One of the 16 Days of Activism intervention plans by government is to start working internally with criminal justice systems, with women who are employed to protect those in need in our communities. There are many laws that continue and provide human protection. In terms of these acts there is help at our courts as well, so why do many of the applicants withdraw and deny it? There’s always fear of intimidation, loss of custody and children and more.

“It is never too late to start with ourselves and women need to start speaking up and taking the first few steps to start changing their situation.”

The 16 Days of Activism campaign continues until Sunday.

Locals are urged to support organisations to highlight the issue throughout the country.

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