Women’s Legal Circle aims to empower

Members of the Women Legal Circle with their certificates after attending the first workshop. Pictured in front, from left, are Edith Viljoen, Ann Mitchell, Zurina Groves, Magret de Kock and Judith Rassie. At back are Sharon Adams, Kamiela Frans, Nadia van der Schyff, Magdalene Mathi, Juanita Scott, Abe Braaf and Faldela Kamaldien.

A new network has been formed to help women learn about legal issues.

The Women’s Legal Circle held their first workshop on Women’s Day, August 9, in New Horizon.

The aim is for women with similar problems to help each other and meet community leaders and those in the legal field so they can get insight in the legal system and guidance on how to take action in cases involving issues such as domestic violence.

The women will meet on the last Saturday of each month.

Paralegal Abe Braaf, from New Horizon, co-ordinated the workshop. He said the aim is to empower women.

He will arrange for the women and service providers to discuss legal cases and formulate advice on ways to address the issues with the relevant authorities.

He said they have identified business people social workers, psychologists and people in the legal field to share their expertise.

“The women also envisage awareness programmes, fact finding missions and meetings with government departments to help the down-trodden,” said Mr Braaf.

Some of the women who attended the workshop gave Southern Mail feedback on what was discussed.

Fagmeeda Adriaanse, of New Horizon, spoke about domestic violence.

“One woman spoke about how her husband used to beat her. She said she couldn’t go on living like that and filed for divorce after two years of abuse. She has two daughters, one daughter is married and the other one is still living at home.”

Ms Adriaanse said she is willing to help women who are abused or who would like to get out of that situation. She invites them to speak out at the meetings.

Zurina Groves, of Lotus River, spoke about the challenges of gangsterism and how she open- ed her doors and made it a “place of safety”, for primary school children.

“Every Wednesday I play and sing songs for 15 children. I try to do more, but my hands are tied, because I am not working. My husband is the only one working. I would like to open up a feeding scheme, so that I can feed those who are at school, and those who are not in school yet.”

She said she has already started teaching the little ones the alphabet.

Another one of her concerns is high school drop-outs who leave due to fighting at school.

“They are fighting over drugs and also selling drugs because they have nothing to do with their lives,” said Ms Groves.

She said the children in her street are forced to stay at home because of gangsters shooting at each other daily.

“Gangs prevent our children from living their lives. It breaks my heart to see our children not being able to play soccer before someone comes around the corner and shoots in the road.”

Ms Groves said at the next Women’s Legal Circle workshop, they are aiming to discuss security in the area and will ask Grassy Park police for their input.

Juanita Scott, from Mitchell’s Plain, said she has learnt much from the women who spoke at the meeting.

“I heard what women go through. Each time when we hear the cry of women, it sounds like an illness.”

She said the women had similar struggles which she had witnessed as a community leader at Heal our World, a women support group.

“There is so many single, unemployed mothers who need government support. I have been fighting for these women for eight years,” said Ms Scott.

She said she has been lobbying for a new police station, a clinic and an early learning education centre, in Hyde Park, Mitchell’s Plain. “I was shocked to see children as young as six smoking dagga pipes,” she said.

She advised women to see that children are in school. “When they are teenagers they also need to be supervised because we have seen pregnancies of teenagers as young as 12 years old.”

She said the Women’s Legal Circle will be a benefit to all women from different areas. “I noticed that it was many of the women’s first workshop and it was a good opportunity for them to talk about their problems and just cry it out. Women need to do the workshops more often,” said Ms Scott.

Their next workshop is scheduled to be held at 33 Tody Street, Pelican Park, on Heritage Day, Saturday September 24, from 9am to 4pm.

For more information, contact Kamiela Frans on 073 753 4777 or Abe Braaf on 071 216 9894.