Marike Herselman Photography Cape Town

The Saartjie Baartman Centre

for woman and children

by Marike Herselman

This month I decided to approach a the first one-stop centre in the country for women, youth and children who have experienced domestic and / or sexual violence in their lives.

It is still a massive problem in South Africa where woman and children do not have a safe space to escape from what could be an abusive environment at home. It is an unfair situation where woman think it is normal to be treated like they are less and children are sitting in the position that the person that is supposed to protect them is causing them the biggest harm. The Centre doesn't only create a safe space, but also educate these woman and children about their worth and their rights. Truly inspiring.

"The Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children (SBCWC ) is a one-stop centre for women and children who are survivors of abuse. Our vision is the creation of a safe and secure society and a human rights culture where women and children are empowered to exercise their full rights."

- Saartjie Baartman Centre

Director, Shaheema McLeod, provides strategic leadership to the Centre. She is responsible for strategic planning for the growth and sustainability of the Centre, for partnership development, fundraising, networking and the replication of similar centres in other parts of the country.

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"By naming our centre after Saartjie Baartman, we are remembering and honouring a woman who has become an icon, not only to her own Khoikhoi people, but to all women who know oppression and discrimination in their lives."

By The Saartjie Baartman Centre

If you don't know the story or Saartjie Baartman and why she is such an icon and so relevent, I'll give you the short version. Saartjie Baartman was a Khoikhoi woman born in the Cape Colony in 1789 and was taken to Englang in 1810. She was accompanied by her employer, Hendrik Cesars, and William Dunlop, an English doctor who worked at the Cape slave lodge. Because of her large bottom they wanted to show her on stage as a natural marvel, the "Hottentot Venus" to earn money. She caught the attention of British abolitionists while performing in Picadilly Circus and argued that she was made to perform against her will. Dunlop did supply documents that gives her concent, but the validity of these were questioned. She was eventually sold to an animal trainer in Paris to amuse onlookers at Palais-Royal. Baartman lived in poverty, and died in Paris of an undetermined inflammatory disease in December 1815.

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The Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children (SBCWC) was opened in 1999 as the first multi-disciplinary service (one-stop) centre for abused women and children in the country. This provided an opportunity for organisations to come together as partners to develop an appropriate on-site multi-agency service delivery model for the effective management, treatment and prevention of violence against women and children. It also presented an opportunity for a partnership approach between government departments and the non-governmental sector.

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Vision – The vision of the SBCWC is the creation of a safe and secure society and a human rights culture, where women and children are empowered to exercise their full rights.

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Mission statement

The mission of the SBCWC, as a human rights-based, non-governmental organisation, is to provide a comprehensive range of services that are accessible and safe to women and children by:

  • Working in partnership with organisations that advocate ending violence against women and children
  • Providing 24-hour emergency shelter, short and medium term residential care, and childcare services
  • Prioritising awareness of women's rights on issues such as HIV/AIDS, gender-based violence, legal and socio-economic rights
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Objectives

Developmental objective - We have established an integrated and comprehensive one-stop centre for women and children who are survivors of gender-based violence

  • Manage an effective and co-ordinated one-stop centre partnership that provides a comprehensive range of services for abused women and children.
  • Establish, through research, a best practice intervention model to challenge and end violence against women and children.
  • Provide effective community outreach work to end violence against women and children through preventative and awareness programmes.
  • Develop an effective networking relationship with other organisations, networks and tertiary institutions that advocate and seek an end to violence against women and children.
  • Promote research and advocacy on gender-based violence in order to influence policy makers and society in general.
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To get involved, please contact:
The Saartjie Baartman Center
+27 21 633 5287
info@womenscentre.co.za
Klipfontein Rd
Manenberg
Cape Town
or Visit their website

Written by Marike Herselman

- 12 December 2016

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