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Heads of depts called to account for gender-based abuse at shelters

Victims have told the Commission for Gender Equality they suffered secondary abuse at the shelters and others offered no counselling.

Commission for Gender Equality deputy chair Tamara Mathebula. Picture: YouTube screengrab.

JOHANNESBURG - The directors general of social development and human settlements would have to explain to the Commission for Gender Equality why shelters meant to provide refuge for victims of gender-based violence perpetuate abuse.

The commission said it would hold public hearings to get more information on the state of these shelters and hold all government departments to account.

On Monday, victims told the commission they suffered secondary abuse at the shelters and others offered no counselling.

The commission said the high rates of gender-based violence in the country made shelters even more necessary.

But it has found that they were falling short in all the country’s nine provinces.

The commission’s deputy chair Tamara Mathebula said: “It has become essential to assess the conditions of the shelters amid high levels of GBV [gender-based violence] as well as femicide in South Africa.”

Mathebula said challenges included lack of funding and late payments while some buildings posed a threat.

“They need to be addressed at the highest level of the institution that is expected to offer services to survivors of gender-based violence.”

She said they found a lack of compliance to policies including therapy, early childhood development and mechanisms used when victims need further assistance.

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