Today MOSAIC in partnership with the Reach Out and Touch Ministry co-hosted an event in Atlantis. The theme of the day was “Domestic & Sexual Violence: Rights & Services,” and the speakers and community members engaged in a rich and constructive dialogue about the presence of gender-based violence in Atlantis and how the community can work together to end it.
To kick off the event, Dawn Fish from MOSAIC welcomed all, Annie Peterson, from Reach Out and Touch, opened the event with a prayer. Arnelle Meyer from MOSAIC spoke about social ills – Domestic and Sexual Violence and introduced the community to the services that MOSAIC offers to address them, including the Court Support Programme, Social Services, Training and Social Enterprise, MenCare+ and MOSAIC’s response to sexual violence at Thuthuzela Care Centers. Wendy performed a beautiful dance set to a fitting song choice, “Break Every Chain.”
Following the dance, Sister Sadi spoke on behalf of Wesfleur Hospital and gave an extensive list of services offered there for female patients. Annie Peterson returned to the stage to explain Reach Out and Touch’s focus on a mind, body and spirit response to domestic and sexual violence as well as their counseling and awareness-raising activities. Barbara Rass, who works for the City of Cape Town but spoke in the capacity of a social activist, spoke of the importance of speaking out about domestic and sexual violence. “Take away the labels and focus on the issues and working together,” she pleaded. “Take Atlantis back by calling quarterly meetings to change the social fabric!”
Mr Solomons from Atlantis Magistrate Court shared interesting facts about protection orders, the Domestic Violence Act, the Children’s Act, and the Harassment Bill. Both Solomons and Rass urged people to come to them for assistance, expressing an open-door policy – from both Department of Justice as well as the City of Cape Town.
The programme for the day ended with Daphne Peterson read two poignant poems she had written on the themes of activism in the Atlantis community, one in English and one in Afrikaans.
MOSAIC also provided HIV testing on-site during the event, and many people took the opportunity to determine their status.
Reducing the instance of domestic and sexual violence in Atlantis is something everyone present was passionate about. This was clear, as many of the audience members asked questions and challenged the speakers which sparked both dialogue and debate. MOSAIC came away from the event reminded of how important collaboration is in the NGO sector, and Atlantis community members expressed a sense of empowerment. The sentiment of the day was best captured by Ms Rass’ parting words: “Let’s speak the truth. Let’s talk about these issues, because it’s only us who can make a difference… Let’s change Atlantis. We can do it—better together!”