By Emily Setona
QWAQWA – The 16 Days of Activism Against Abuse of Women and Children kicked off with victims of gender-based violence (GBV) sharing testimonies of their journey towards healing with the community of Lusaka in QwaQwa.
The community of Lusaka came out in their numbers at the local Hall on November 24 to hear courageous stories of how the victims of GBV navigated their way towards healing, and piecing together their lives.
One of the victims, Mathapelo Khumalo had faced abuse and losing a child in an abusive marriage.
Khumalo moved the audience when she related that she can no longer conceive after facing a traumatizing abuse in a customary marriage that has now left her with permanent scars.
“I feel like sharing my story like this today is helping me to heal because this happened in 2009 and I feel like I have removed something off my shoulders because memories of the abuse kept haunting me; but sharing my story has made me feel better,” Khumalo said.
Another victim Tshepiso Dlamini shared her own story and encouraged Khumalo to be strong because she is not alone in this ordeal.
“I was happily married until things changed for the worse when I got a job and gained financial independence from my then husband. I endured all types of abuse from my ex-husband and even spent some time in jail for domestic violence.
“Thusanang Advice Centre really helped me to deal with my anger and find a way to move on from this torment. I am here today sharing my story because I have found healing and feel comfortable to share my story with others,” Dlamini said.
In an interview with The Guard, acting director from Thusanag Advice Centre Busisiwe Hadebe said the organisation works with victims of GBV and helps with counselling, psychological and paralegal aid.
Lusaka community members and stakeholders during 16 days of activism against gender based violence.
“Our role as Thusanang is to advocate for the rights and dignity of victims of GBV so that the women and men that we assist don’t remain as victims but become victors. We work with several stakeholders including the royal households to educate people about the issue of GBV, so that the community is informed about this sensitive subject,” Hadebe said.
Among those present at the event were the South African Police Service (SAPS) with representatives from Makwane police station and the University of the Free State’s community development representatives, along with NGOs that deal with cases of GBV.