Apr 10

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2014: “Inspiring Change”

On Saturday, 8 March 2014, Women on Farms Project (WFP) celebrated International Women’s Day. With the international theme of “Inspiring Change”, 160 farmwomen from various areas, including Ceres, Rawsonville, De Doorns, Stellenbosch, Paarl, Grabouw and Wellington, as well as partners from Mawubuye from Ashton and Robertson and Food Sovereignty from Citrusdal, gathered to mark this day which has been celebrated internationally since 1911 to mark women’s achievements. While noting women’s numerous accomplishments in South Africa, there was an acknowledgement that more changes are still necessary. To this end, the WFP event focused on Violence Against Women (VAW), as a specific issue requiring attention. Following a role-play presented by Aunty Stienie and Alida from Rawsonville, and a presentation by the South African Police Services (SAPS) on the services that women can and should demand when laying charges at police stations, women worked in commissions on the following questions:

1. The extent of the problem of violence against women and children in various communities

2. The nature and extent of the problem of “Sugar Daddies” in their communities

3. The quality of service women receive when reporting cases of sexual violence and abuse at police stations and courts The following were some of the most significant points raised in the commissions: The problem of violence against women

• Many rapes of children take place in the vineyards and orchards when they go and look for fruit

• The poor lighting on farms makes women vulnerable to rape and assault which is very rife; women feel scared to walk at night • Sexual violence and rape against children is a growing problem in all areas

• Because the perpetrators get bail, they continue to commit these acts; other men are also not deterred Sugar Daddies

• Sugar Daddies are a growing problems in all the rural areas

• Poverty, or parents’ ability to provide for all the needs of their young daughters, was the main reason girls had transactional relationships with these men

• Sugar Daddies gave the girls money, cellphones, expensive clothes, toiletries

• In many cases, the parents either knew about the Sugar Daddies or even received money (for the household) from them  

Services at Police Stations

• Many police still don’t take it seriously when women try to lay charges against their physically abusive husbands • Police are slow to respond and hardly come out to farms when women phone to report a case; they always says they don’t have vehicles to available

• Police don’t want to take on cases when women don’t have a witness to corroborate their charge

• When women lay a charge, the police send the women home and promise to come to the house, but never do Women’s undertook to:

• Provide practical and moral support to neighbours, friends and family experiencing violence

• Break the silence surrounding the various forms of VAW endemic in communities

• Practically and collectively address the issue of Sugar Daddies in their homes and communities

• Share relevant information with other women regarding VAW – e.g. how to get a interdict against an abusive partner

• Challenge police about the quality of services they receive in cases of VAW

• Organise area-based campaigns around issues of violence against women