KZN Network of Violence Against Women Cookie Edwards. Picture: Supplied
KZN Network of Violence Against Women Cookie Edwards. Picture: Supplied

16 Days of Activism: KZN Network on Violence Against Women calls for prevention strategies to counter GBV before it occurs

By Nokuthula Mabuza Time of article published Dec 2, 2021

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DURBAN - THE KZN Network on Violence Against Women says there is a need to employ prevention strategies to counter gender-based violence (GBV) before it can occur.

This was stressed by the director of the network, Cookie Edwards, who has been an activist against GBV for over 30 years and is a partner member of the Faith Action to End GBV Collective.

Edwards established the network to assist women in 1999 after she ended her abusive first marriage.

With the aim of creating violence-free zones, the organisation has rapid response teams in four communities – uMlazi, Inanda, Wentworth and Newlands.

UMlazi was recently added after the SAPS crime statistics showed the area to be a hot spot for GBV in the province.

Dealing and working with women survivors, both provincially and nationally, the organisation has handled more than 1 000 cases of GBV since January. Edwards said her experience encouraged her to help other women break their silence on GBV.

“I am a survivor myself. I experienced GBV in my first marriage, which has ended now. This made me understand what women go through in relationships and why they may be quiet about it,” she said.

After her divorce, she started giving others moral support. This later escalated and led her to start her own organisation. She said the increase in the number of GBV cases was proof that a lot needed to be done.

KZN Network of Violence Against Women Cookie Edwards. Picture: Supplied

“We need to focus more on prevention strategies. Most of the time we have focused on treatment and support after the incident. We are not saying that is not important, but we need to instil prevention work. Everyone needs to know the prevention strategies to incidents before they actually happen.

“The 16 Days of Activism is there to highlight the issues. But we have these issues 24/7 for 365 days a year. We are supposed to be doing this throughout the year, not just for 16 days. I also think whatever is done by the justice system needs to be truly strengthened,” said Edwards.

She said they were working with different stakeholders from the government and civil society in an effort to provide a clear referral pathway for survivors.

“Our rapid response team leaders create different support systems around survivors for them to be safe. If one comes to us regarding abuse, depending on what they are seeking, we refer them to the police, courts, shelters or social workers. We follow up on their behalf. We do not just give advice, we ensure they get the help they need,” she said.

Edwards said they were engaging with different communities to create more safety zones.

“We are engaging with stakeholders in Inanda and uMlazi to have community dialogues to established violence-free zones. Women who are scared of coming out need to break the silence. They need to know that there is help for them out there. This doesn’t only help them, but also their communities at large. There are even free help lines where they could stay anonymous but speak to somebody for help,” said Edwards.

Daily News

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