United against domestic violence

2019-06-11 06:00
Sharna Fernandez urged parents to continue doing the good work of taking care of their childrenPHOTO: siphesihle notwabaza

Sharna Fernandez urged parents to continue doing the good work of taking care of their childrenPHOTO: siphesihle notwabaza

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Community organisations, educare staff members and children, police officials and residents gathered at a church in Portlands to attend this year’s annual child protection service last Thursday.

The event was organised by Safeline director Rochelle Philander. She was joined by ward 79 councillor Solomon Philander and provincial minister of social development Sharna Fernandez.

Safeline is a non-profit organisation that provides much needed services to victims of abuse. They also do awareness campaigns to empower parents.

Rochelle said the emotional event sought to heal wounds of parents or families who lost their children to domestic violence.

She added it also aimed to make people aware of the platforms they can use to report domestic violence hence the presence of police officials. The timing was perfect because there has just been a celebration of Child Protection Week, she said. There was prayer for violence to lessen and the society to eventually become free of domestic violence.

Candles were lit before the prayer for, among other things, the protection and care over children, victims of violence, healing of victims of abuse and grieving prayer for parents whose children have died.

Rochelle said she was happy with the turnout and also thanked the stakeholders that they partnered with. She thanked them for heeding the call to fight violence.

“I am very happy with the turnout, this is our seventh year and we need to ensure we spread the word. We receive a lot of referrals from our stakeholders about domestic violence cases,” she said.

According to her, that (referrals) was an indication of the seriousness of the issue. She said her wish was for people to understand the importance of communicating and speaking out about violence. She added stakeholders are helping in making her wish a reality. “Stakeholders and partners are responding to the call. People want to stand for the rights of their children. We are not going to be bullied,” she emphasised.

Delivering her keynote address, Fernandez told the attendees that statistics of violence against children are shocking and scary. She urged the residents to stand together and fight. She said parents cannot expect children to be perfect and whole if they do not set a good example. “As a society, we need to recognise that we are a broken society, we are seeing children being abused and kidnapped more and more,” she said.

She encouraged the attendees to bring back the culture of “your child is my child”. According to her, that would help because people could confront other people’s children when they’ve done wrong. She also urged parents to trust their instincts when they suspected something was not right with their children.“If you suspect something is wrong with a child, try and find out,” she said.

She thanked the residents for attending and said their attendance was a sign that they were also in need of change in their areas of residences. “I would like to believe the fact that you came is an indication of your commitment to making a difference in our children’s lives,” she expressed.

Her other plea to the community was to be united against violence so that children could feel safe all the time. “We need to stand up and say ‘enough is enough’. We need to draw the line in the sand to say ‘this is our place and we claim it’,” she expressed.

Principal of Mizpah Educare Anthea Arendse said she was glad to be part of the event. For her, the event’s venue signified that children can feel free and speak about all that is troubling them. She admitted there was violence in the areas but not all hope is lost. “There is a lot of domestic violence in our communities but I have hope, things will change. We thank Safeline for this event. They help a lot of people,” Arendse said.

She said her educational facility does not only deal with children but with parents as well. She said they make parents aware of platforms they can use to report domestic violence.

Resident Anthony Williams, who was attending the event for the first time, described it as “heavily emotional”.

“It is a very touching event and we need to do something about this (domestic violence) as parents and grandparents,” he said.

He did not say much except to quickly add even though there is so much violence, there is still hope for things to change.


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