July 23, 2024
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Launches 16 Days of Activism against GBV campaign by encouraging survivors to Act Now

To support the delivery of its 16 Days of Activism, Act Now initiative, TEARS Foundation will be hosting a range of capacity-building activities to increase awareness of violence and abuse against women and girls, and to promote advocacy for those who need a voice.

More action is needed to ensure all women and girls, regardless of where they come from, live free of violence and abuse. The health impacts of violence can last a lifetime, affecting physical, mental, sexual, and reproductive health.

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While violence affects women everywhere, black women face an even greater difficulty to have their voices heard and to access support. This is due to a complex combination of factors, including cultural influences that foster gender inequality, a lack of accessible support services and an ineffective judicial system.

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“We need to change our perspective of abuse and challenge pervasive norms that contribute to the violence against women and children. Women need a voice and it’s time we all listen. Women and girls everywhere should be able to access the help they need, when they need it, so we can end violence once and for all,” says Mara Glennie, Founder and CEO of TEARS Foundation.

Founded in 2012, TEARS Foundation is a women led, registered NPO, established to counter domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse. TEARS has provided direct support to more than three quarters of a million victims of abuse, across South Africa. The organisation provides access to crisis intervention, advocacy, counselling, and prevention education services for those impacted by sexual violence and abuse, regardless of age, ethnicity, religion, culture, socio-economic background or location. All their services are confidential, free, and available nationwide with a 24-hour free USSD service that identifies the closest support centre, linking victims to facilities that provide immediate help and counselling.

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The award-winning service that TEARS has created connects victims with emergency shelters. The service also refers rape victims to medical facilities to make sure that they receive treatment for their injuries, access to antiretroviral drugs, blood tests, and treatment to prevent unwanted pregnancy resulting from rape. Ensuring that legal documentation required for prosecution to take place, is additionally embedded within the service. “TEARS also follows up with the police on behalf of victims who have case numbers, gives victims advice on applying for protection orders, and guides women and men on leaving abusive relationships,” explains Glennie.

The Act Now initiative aims to amplify awareness about gender-based violence (GBV) that will empower and equip individuals and communities with the knowledge that their voices hold significance and that they possess the right to take action, to speak out, and seek help.

Lethiwe Hlatshwayo, Executive Head: Corporate Communications at Cell C comments, “As Cell C, we are pleased to again partner with the TEARS Foundation as we have a shared commitment to contributing to the eradication of addressing GBV and to support victims. We are collaborating on educating the public and creating awareness on support programmes and available assistance and support for those affected by GBV. The UN theme on GBV is Orange The World and we’ve linked our #OrangeYourWorld campaign to this for the 16 Days of Activism against GBV. We also wanted to lend a further hand by making available 200 comfort packs that are sorely needed in safe houses to take care of the basic needs of GBV survivors.”

In a 2008 publication, the Medical Research Council reported that 1 in 9 women who experience rape in South Africa report the crime to the police. With survivors’ reluctance to report rape and abuse, it’s likely that those figures are much higher now.

GBV affects survivors to such a degree that they don’t want to talk about it. For those who have not experienced such trauma, it may be difficult to comprehend why survivors don’t share their experience. The fundamental message of TEARS Foundation’s ACT Now campaign focuses on the rights of every survivor to be free, safe, and respected and that is a message everyone can relate to and speak out about. Education is the beginning of change and everyone can play a role in the fight against GBV.

“One thing a survivor of rape and abuse deserves to hear is that someone believes them,” says Glennie, “At TEARS you are heard and understood. We will walk with you, guide you and support you when you need it.”

Support starts with awareness and TEARS Foundation’s Act Now campaign sheds light on some of the realities faced by so many people in South Africa. Behind the statistics are real people with real stories and those that stay silent need help and encouragement to get the help they need.

Heartreakingly, 150 000 individuals reach out to the TEARS Foundation each year. That equates to an average of 411 people seeking help every day and 17 people every hour. It’s a harsh reality to comprehend that every fourth person you know has experienced some form of abuse.

Through the Act Now campaign, TEARS reminds victims and survivors that its services are readily available, even in the darkest moments of uncertainty. It’s not just about getting help; it’s about being acknowledged, reassured, and embraced with understanding.

“Our helpline is more than a mere number—it symbolises a commitment, a refuge, and an enduring source of support that goes beyond the immediate pain. We believe you – make the call, access our resources, and help yourself,” says Glennie.

Hlatshwayo emphasises, “Through the partnership with TEARS Foundation and our #OrangeYourWorld campaign, we hope to contribute to the broader goal of creating a society free from GBV.”

Please visit tears.co.za for resources or contact the free helpline number *134*7355# or 010 590 5920 (standard rates apply) –  both numbers are available 24/7. To find the nearest centre dealing with GBV free of charge, visit https://tears.storefind.mobi/ or send an email to info@tears.co.za.

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#16DaysofActivism #GBV #GenderBasedViolence #ActNow #TEARS #StopGBV #NoShameNoBlame #YouAreNotAlone #YouAreNotBroken #AbuseHelpline

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