People of faith
ACT AND CHALLENGE
WITH SURVIVORS IN THE CENTRE
TO STOP SEXUAL AND GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE
In 2013, Tear Fund SA undertook research, led by the Stellenbosch University Unit for Religion and Development Research that listened to the voices of survivors about their experience with local churches. What came out very strongly was that the first place they wanted to go to when something traumatic happened was their church and it was often the last place they got the support they needed. Instead, they got judgement and stigmatisation. The research was presented at a meeting of leaders of diverse churches and a decision was made that churches needed to start working together to develop systems and structures that were responsive to survivor needs.
This gave birth to the WWSOSA chapter in SA within a global WWSOSA movement. Initially it was an informal collective and in 2016 work began to establish a formal structure, and WWSOSA registered as an NPO and PBO in April 2017. A key principle for WWSOSA has been to be guided by survivor voices and it has accompanied the initial survivor group as they have formed the own registered NPO, Phephisa Survivors Network. Phephisa continues to be a crucial advocacy partner. Our Constitution requires that 2 places on the Management Committee are held by survivor representatives to guide the leadership of the coalition, and ensure that survivor voices remain at its centre.
Why mobilise the faith sector to end GBV?
South Africa has the highest incidence of rape of any country that is not at war, and is one of the most dangerous places for women to live. It is a whole society problem which requires action from all sectors and all individuals in our country. The faith sector has a huge role to play in ending sexual and gender-based violence. More than 85% of South Africans report being religious. The strong influence religion can have on people’s attitudes can help change social norms and end gender-based violence. There are places of worship in every urban and rural community that can play a vital role in prevention and survivor support.
We know that some religious leaders abuse their power through sexual misconduct and abuse of power. But we also know that other churches and religious institutions are speaking out strongly against gender-based violence and offer much-needed support. The faith sector, including the Faith Action to End GBV Collective (of which WWSOSA was a founder member in 2020) is increasingly becoming acknowledged by the SA Government as a key stakeholder in achieving the NSP on GBV and Femicide, as well as international agencies and governments, such as the United Nations Partnership on Research and Development (PaRD).
Chair: Ms Pontso Segwai
Pontsho is the Field Operations Manager for World Vision South Africa. Her journey with World Vision began 13 years ago as the Gender and Development Coordinator (a position that allowed her to merge her two loves – God and gender) and then she became the Child Protection Technical Manager from 2015.
Deputy Chair: Rev Bafana Khumalo
Bafana is Co-Executive Director at Sonke Gender Justice and one of the organizations’ co-founders. He previously served as co-director of the organisation and has a long and accomplished track record in the NGO sector. He has spoken and many national and international conferences and is the recipient of various awards.
Treasurer: Mr Simon John Read
Simon is a member of the South African Institute of Public Accountants, and is a partner in an accounting practice in Durban, with 30 years practice in the sector.
Management Committee :
ManCom Special Subcommittees :
Ms Daniela Gennrich
Daniela Gennrich is a longstanding social, HIV and Gender activist, and a lay Canon in the Anglican Diocese of Natal. She has extensive experience as an NGO director, consultant and workplace, leadership and life coach. Daniela holds three Masters degrees (the last in Gender, Religion and Health) and has led a number of publication projects.
Sexual violence is unacceptable, inexcusable and intolerable in all its manifestations.