December 1, 2019

There is a way to fight back against the abuse of women and children without violence. Use the law.

Violence and abuse against women and children are serious issues in South Africa. The unfortunate truth is that this is happening more regularly than what everyone is aware of. One cannot help to wonder if these women and children know that there is a way to fight back without using violence. 

Abuse can take various forms and sometimes women and children do not even know that they are being abused. Abuse can be physically, sexually, emotionally, economically, through intimidation or harassment, through their property being damaged, or even through a stranger trespassing onto their private property.

Unfortunately, there are women and children being abused on a daily basis. Women can get abused in their own homes by her spouse/partner or any other person living with them, which is called domestic violence. Women can also get abused at work by colleagues or by strangers. Children can get abused by their parents; family members; their teachers or peers at school; or also through cyber bullying. With technology and social media taking everyone by storm, a new movement is online abuse, which is also known as cyber bullying. For example, a catfight on Facebook where one person is calling another person ugly names to such a degree that the other person's dignity is being infringed. 

The “16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children” campaign was started to actively fight against violence and abuse against women and children. Women and children should know they do not have to accept and just live with the violence or abuse, there is a way out for them. Fight back without violence and go get a protection order, also known as a restraining order.

A protection order is an order made by a court that prevents the person who abuses (“abuser”) another person (“victim”) from continuing to abuse the victim. A victim can apply for a protection order at a Magistrate's Court (“court”) in the area where the victim or abuser lives or work. If the victim does not have an attorney, the clerk of the court will assist the victim with completing the necessary application form. The victim can also lay a criminal charge/complaint against the abuser at a police station. 

If the victim is a child, s/he can apply for a protection order on his/her own without consent or help from a parent or guardian. Any other person who has an interest in the wellbeing and safety of the victim can also apply for a protection order on behalf of the victim. 

After applying for a protection order, the victim and abuser will have to go to court and the court will decide whether to grant or refuse the protection order. If the court makes the order, the abuser must obey to the terms and conditions set out in it, for example, s/he is not allowed to contact the victim or to come near the victim. If the abuser goes against the protection order, for example, by going to the victim's work or school, the victim must report this to the police and the abuser can get arrested.

Even though this article focusses on abuse and violence against women and children, it is important to know that men can also be victims of abuse. Men have the same rights and remedies as women and children to stop abuse or violence.

LegalWise proudly supports the fight against violence and abuse against women and children. LegalWise aims to help its Members by giving them legal advice to empower them to fight back with a “Legal Fist”. LegalWise offers a range of Membership options. For more information, visit the LegalWise website or contact your nearest Branch.