"I bought Rattex and I almost got it."
Surviving Family Abuse Rachel recalls the moment she joined others who went to Parliament for lack of funding for shelters for abused women and children.
"I was at a point where I wanted to kill myself and my children," said Rachel, when the women around her sang in the rain and wind outside parliament on Tuesday.
Women and a handful of men wearing banners and umbrellas with messages about violence against women demanded that shelters be given to the necessary funding and support they need from the government instead of "turning around" against the fight against violence based on gender.
Rachel, who survived the violence in her family, was taken into the shelter of the difference between life and death, not only for her, but also for her children.
The week before she left her husband, she was beaten up "to the pulp" and she could not speak about it, because she would punish her if she did it.
Rachel said she was at the police station and told her: "Excuse me, miss, but we do not mind house issues." She found refuge in relatives, but due to her own financial limitations, she could afford only a brief help.
Rachel told her that she eventually isolated her husband from her family, friends and neighbors, who would not let her work.
But one day, after a particularly bad defeat, she returned to the police to help undercover.
"I told him to go to the shops to buy food for the house," she said. "That was it, or I and my children will end up dead."
She said she waited hours at the police station and that during that time she thought of the rat poison she had bought at the moment of despair and saw death as the only way for her and the children.
"People say to you," You have to leave him, "but where are you going?" she asked.
Waiting was so long that her baby's diaper became wet, her breasts were sick, because she had to be fed and her daughter was hungry.
Rachel intended to get up and leave when police officers came to her and told her that she and her children would be taken to a safe place.
"I felt relief," she said. "I did not know what it would look like, or if it was not going to be home."
Now, Rachel works at the Saartjie Center for Women and Children in Cape Town and helps women who feel as helpless as she is.
However, these shelters are financially tackled and they want the Ministry of Social Development to speed up and help them.
Executive Head of the National Movement for Shelters in South Africa and Director of the Institute for Women's Development Nisa, dr. Zang Dangor said that people who searched for shelter in the shelter stayed at least six months old and that all their needs are needed – from food for school clothes for their children, but it costs money.
Dangor added that they often need new ID cards, birth certificates or move to another province for security purposes, and staff members deserve to pay the national minimum wage.
Helping victims get retention orders, learning them the skills they can use, finding jobs and counseling, costing money and not getting enough shelters or getting them in time.
Dangor estimated that there were around 85 shelters at national level and 16 in Cape Town. These are accredited and in accordance with the norms and standards set by the government. There are also other initiatives established in different communities, but the organization of work would see the standardization of shelters.
She said that the Ministry of Social Development sometimes missed the payment of subsidies in shelters that it registered, which forced one manager of the shelter to take a personal loan to cover the deficit to remain open – or the payments were too small.
Dangor added, despite this, a good job was done and referred to a refuge in KwaNobuhle in Port Elizabeth, which had at his disposal permanent counselors, which he wanted for all shelters.
However, the department does not pay shelters in time or does not provide them with adequate care, because, according to research carried out by the Center for Gender Equality, countries in which shelters are "absolutely critical" for abused women and their children.
Bernadine Bachar, chairwoman of the women's shelter in the Western Cape, who is also the director of the Saartjie Baartman Center, said subsidies ranged from as small as R9 per day in one province to R71 in the other.
"The lack of subsidies and other resources stemming from the protection and maintenance infrastructure for the employment of key employees in shelters affects our ability to provide food and other supplies to those who want to avoid abuses," Bachar added.
The protesters' protest was received by Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu, who embraced women at the rain.
Zulu said she would make every effort to keep their concerns going, especially with the coming month of August.
With the demonstrators who gathered around her, they encouraged them to continue to raise issues that concern women and children.
Organizational requirements are:
- Adequate cost and sufficient funding for all shelters providing services to survivors of violence based on gender, uniformly and in all provinces;
- Ensure adequate resources for the recruitment of minimum staff allowances, including shelter managers, social workers, social assistants and family assistants;
- Ensure that no staff in shelters receives lower than national minimum wages;
- Ensure that funding models allow the accommodation of standardized and high-quality survival services in all shelters;
- Stop delays in tranche payments and do not use heavy bureaucratic funding procedures that prevent services for survivors' care due to violence.
Asked if she could have one wish, Rachel said that the Employment Agency should employ women living in shelters after completing training and developing the skills they were deprived of because of their previous helpless living conditions.
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