Johannesburg, South Africa (Wednesday 25 November) – In January 2021, Lawyers against Abuse (LvA) will expand its services for gender-based violence (GBV) victims by opening a second Centre in Orange Farm, the southernmost township in Johannesburg. Since 2014, LvA has operated a walk-in Centre in Diepsloot where it provides free, professional legal services and therapy and counselling to GBV victims.
Recently identified by government as one of South Africa’s “GBV hotspots,” Orange Farm experiences high levels of sexual violence, domestic violence and violence against children on an almost daily basis. In October, community members marched in protest of the high levels violence in their community and demanded better protection from local police.
LvA will therefore join other NGOs in the community to help confront GBV and ensure victims secure justice. LvA will provide specialised legal services in cases of GBV and work closely with local state actors, including police and court officials, to ensure that cases progress through the justice system and that perpetrators are held accountable.
To date, LvA has assisted over 1 200 GBV victims and survivors in Diepsloot. They have provided therapy and counselling to over 500 clients, while their legal support services have assisted in the granting of 380 Protection Orders and 33 convictions in GBV criminal cases.
Being able to provide these specialized legal services to more communities is vital in a country with some of the highest GBV prevalence rates in the world. The 2019/2020 crime statistics (released in July 2020) revealed that in the preceding 12 months, partners, ex-partners or spouses were recorded as having committed 22 864 common assaults, 14 020 assaults with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm and 817 murders.
Alarming as they are, these statistics do not tell the entire story: in 2018, 2 700 women were murdered by men in South Africa – almost one every three hours – while over 100 rapes were reported daily, equating to one rape being reported every 15 minutes. Yet, we know that many more acts of violence go unreported for a variety of reasons.
The events of 2020 are believed to have greatly exacerbated the problem, with the hard lockdown resulting in many victims of abuse being trapped with their abusers. Speaking in June 2020, President Ramaphosa condemned what he referred to as a “surge in murders of women and children”.
It is clear that there is an urgent need to address this issue in South Africa. By extending our services to the Orange Farm community, Lawyers against Abuse is continuing to take a stand against one of the greatest challenges facing our society.