eThekwini Residents Share Their Compelling Stories on Violence Prevention

Cathy Moore
USAID Deputy Mission Director, Cathy Moore, with project specialists and at the Wentworth Community Hall in KwaZulu-Natal

The event, held on Friday 19 August, was hosted by the Prevention In Action (PIA)

For Immediate Release

Friday, August 19, 2011

Hundreds of community members and stakeholders from across the eThekwini district packed into the Wentworth Community Hall, where they were inspired by video clips of fellow residents sharing brave and inspiring stories of their actions to prevent violence against women. The event, held on Friday 19 August, was hosted by the Prevention In Action (PIA) social movement and marked a decisive moment in the movement to change attitudes and responses of the public towards the abuse of women.

The PIA movement grew out of a program to prevent violence against women implemented by the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Network on Violence Against Women and their public and civil society sector partners, in partnership with Project Concern International (PCI), and with funding provided through PEPFAR, the U.S President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

“USAID joins with the rest of the country in commemorating Women’s Month this August. We support these vital organizations that women turn to when they need help desperately— such as the Wentworth Victim Friendly Center and other members of the KZN Network” Says USAID Deputy Director, Cathy Moore.

No longer satisfied with watching while so many women suffer abuse and feeling powerless to stop it, the members of the PIA movement are activists in their communities committed to acting to prevent violence against women. The movement provides these activists with training and materials to support their efforts and helps facilitate communications between members.

“It is difficult to break the norms of silence and inaction, and to act in a tense situation but by sharing these compelling stories we are demonstrating to the community that there are concrete ways they can take action safely and effectively. We are showing them that with support and backing of their communities and the movement, acting to prevent violence need not be frightening, but rather, empowering,” says Cookie Edwards, director of the KZN Network on Violence Against Women.

The movement is committed to uncovering and disseminating inspirational stories of its members who have challenged the traditional responses to violence by taking action against it – a courageous feat that makes these individuals Action Heroes in the eyes of the movement and its members. The KZN Network on Violence Against Women has been working with sector partners such as the Wentworth Organization of Women, Wentworth Victim Friendly Centre, Wentworth AIDS Action Group (WOW), World Council for Religion and Peace, Department of Justice, Durban Coastal and Mental Health, SAPS Hillcrest, SAPS KwaMakutha, collecting and filming such stories over the past few weeks.

“Actions don’t need to be complex. It is the simple actions that are most effective as they are often taken on the spur of the moment and when they are most needed,” explains Edwards. “It is these kinds of actions we want to encourage and by sharing them at such an event, we hope to inspire all our members to act when necessary,” added Edwards.

An example of this is PIA Action Hero, Angel Zulu, whose neighbor had denied having domestic issues with her boyfriend despite their constant arguing and fighting. On hearing her calls for help one day, Angel intervened with the help of her church and other PIA members. Through speaking with both the victim and the abuser Angel has taught the victim that she is not alone and can call on the support of her community members and has taught the abuser, that his actions will not be tolerated.

The PIA movement is about empowering communities and this concept is evident in the eThekwini district event today. In order to foster a feeling of ownership and responsibility for community well being amongst residents and stakeholders, sector partners shared in the planning and organization of the event.

With approximately 500 residents, PIA members, community stakeholders and sector partners gathered at the event, speakers from WOW, the Wentworth Victim Friendly Centre and the Department of Justice addressed the crowd with messages in support of the important actions they are taking to prevent violence against women in their communities. The local and US government also reiterated their commitment to addressing this important issue and acknowledged the Action Heroes among the crowd.

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