One of the activities of the Justice and Peace department during Women’s Month was to shine a spotlight on the scourge of gender-based violence.
The department’s head, Joseph Dube, said that, in 2015, it conducted a survey on gender-based violence in which 600 respondents were interviewed. Forty percent said they reported cases to the church. A report was compiled and the department then decided to train counsellors who would work in parishes.
Following other gender-based violence helpdesk launches in other parishes, the parish of Nyolohelo launched its own on Bible Sunday. The Minister of Women and Children, Susan Shabangu graced the occasion.
Mass was celebrated by parish priest, Fr Simphiwe Kheswa OFM, Fr Chaka Motanyane OP and Fr Nhlanhla Mkhize from Mariannhill diocese. They were assisted by Dominican brothers Francis Amponsah and Godfrey Chikaura and Rev Simon Mokoena.
Touching on gender-based violence and abuse, Fr Simphiwe said a woman in an emotionally- abusive situation may not be abused physically, but they are “beaten within”.
Break the silence and talk about it, he urged.
He closed his homily by expressing Gratitude to the minister for attending the occasion.
Ntswaki Maduna from People Opposing Women Abuse said the ‘burning’ stage of abuse did not happen overnight. It starts with little things like being told that “you are not good enough” and being compared to others. Over time, a person’s self-esteem is so crushed that they feel unworthy of anything that is good, she said.
Minister Shabangu said she could attest to the history of the Catholic Church and its role in the struggle, including bullet holes in the structures of Regina Mundi, Moroka. “The church provided a safe haven for many young boys and girls. It should, therefore, carry on in this direction by providing help, not only to Catholics, but to all victims of gender-based violence in the community, including men,” she said.
The minister applauded and thanked the department of Justice and Peace. “You are showing consciousness – an awareness of the injustices. We need to work together in ensuring that gender-based violence ends,” she added.
Parishioner, Lebotho Lerata donated cash towards the hosting of this event.