Spotlight on the Masimanyane Women’s Support Centre

Source: Masimanyane.org.za
Source: Masimanyane.org.za

The Masimanyane Women’s Support Centre, which is based in East London, was established in 1995 by Dr Lesley Ann Foster with the particular aim of assisting women and girls who had suffered sexual violence or abuse in their lives. The centre also advocates for women’s sexual reproductive rights, provides various training programmes and builds women’s leadership capacity.

Masimanyane’s focus from its start was on abused women and girls from poorer communities, but the perpetration is nevertheless across the board and the organisation has since grown to provide assistance regardless of circumstance and background.

Later into its establishment, the support centre began providing paralegal support, advocacy and education initiatives to make up for the lack of the very same support from society and government.

Masimanyane is one of two organisations that introduced the 16 Days of Activism Campaign to South Africa between 1996 and 1997. The centre has since been wholly adopted by government, which gives the organisation even stronger backing.

According to the United Nations, the proportion of women exposed to physical violence in their lifetime can be between 1% and 59%, depending on where they live. In China it’s 12%, Australia and Mozambique is at about 48%, and 59% in the Czech Republic and Zambia. This physical violence can be inflicted by an intimate partner or another man not well known to them.

The Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre, which also promotes and advocates for various women’s rights, highlighted that rape in particular was highly underreported in South Africa.  In addition, based on a 2008 study, it was found that one in three, or 36.4%, of rape suspects arrested were granted bail which, on average, was set at only R2000.

Masimanyane is a local organisation, but has nonetheless supported international causes such as the Bring Back Our Girls campaign for the Nigerian girls that were kidnapped by militant group Boko Haram.

The non-profit has also extended its international presence and activity by monitoring and producing shadow reports on South Africa, and has close links with the United Nations. Masimanyane is also supported by the Embassy of France in South Africa. Its partners include People Opposing Women Abuse, the Centre for Women’s Global Leadership and Amnesty International.

Visit www.masimanyane.org.za to find out more about how the organisation can help you.

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