MOM ALMOST DRANK RATTEX TO ESCAPE ABUSE

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MOM ALMOST DRANK RATTEX TO ESCAPE ABUSE

Domestic abuse survivor Rachel remembers the moment well as she joined others picketing outside Parliament over the lack of funding of shelters for abused women and children. “I was at a point where I wanted to kill myself and my children,” said Rachel as women around her sang in the driving rain and wind outside Parliament on Tuesday.The women and a handful of men, carrying banners and umbrellas bearing anti-gender violence messages, were demanding that shelters be given the urgent funding and support they needed from the government instead of “lip service” to combat gender-based violence.For domestic violence survivor Rachel, being taken to a shelter was the difference between life and death, not just for her, but for her children as well. The week before she left her husband, she had been beaten “to a pulp” and she could not even talk about it to anybody because if she did he would beat her again as punishment.Rachel said she had been to the police previously and they told her: “Sorry miss, but we don’t interfere with house issues.” She found refuge with relatives but they could only afford to help her for short periods due to their own financial constraints.Rachel said she was eventually isolated from family, friends and neighbours by her husband who would not allow her to work.But one day after a particularly bad beating, she went back to the police for help under the guise of running errands. “I told him that I was going to the shops to buy food for the house,” she said.”It was either that or it was going to be me and my kids ending up dead.”She said she had waited for hours to be attended to at the police station and during that time she thought about the rat poison she had bought in a moment of despair, seeing death as the only way out for her and the children.”People tell you: ‘You must leave him’, but where do you go to?” she asked.The wait was so long that her baby boy’s nappy became wet, her breasts were hurting because he needed to be fed, and her daughter was hungry.Rachel was about to get up and leave when police officers walked up to her and told her they were going to take her and her children to a place of safety.”I felt relief,” she said. “I didn’t know what it would look like, or be like, as long as it was not home.” Now, Rachel works at the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children in Cape Town, helping women who felt just as helpless as her.However, these shelters are struggling financially and they want the Department of Social Development to step up and help them.The protesters’ memorandum was accepted by Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu who hugged the women in the rain.Zulu said she would do her best to take their concerns forward, especially with Women’s Month in August approaching. With the protesters huddled around her, she encouraged them to keep raising the issues affecting women and children. 

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