People often ask me “Isn’t it hard?” or “How do you keep a positive attitude?” when I share with them about LvA’s work supporting victims of gender-based violence and the challenges that we face in Diepsloot on a daily basis. For me, the answer lies in celebrating the small victories. Allow me to explain what I mean through the lens of a recent client’s story. On 31 March 2017, bail was denied in one of our client’s criminal cases. While this may not seem very significant in of itself, it is the culmination of several small victories.
You see, the client, Winnie*, was the victim of a horrific gang rape. She was referred to LvA by a member of the Diepsloot Community Policing Forum (CPF), a community-level structure that victims often turn to for help in the first instance. Recognising this, LvA has been working to strengthen our relationship with the CPF including providing them training in mid-March. As such, this referral is a small victory. Furthermore, LvA has developed a strong relationship with the investigating officer assigned to the case and, as such, we were able to engage with the officer as she went above and beyond to build a strong evidence base for the prosecutor to argue against bail. This is a small victory. LvA’s staff attorney, Rethabile, spent hours with Winnie in the week leading up to the bail hearing, ensuring that she understood the criminal procedure, answering all her questions, and assuring her that LvA would be present at court on the day of the bail hearing monitoring the proceedings. This is a small victory. Meanwhile, at the same time, Winnie had several individual trauma counselling sessions with LvA’s therapist, Noluthando, where she was able to begin to work through the trauma she had suffered. This is a small victory.
Through it all, Winnie was able to move from a space where she was terrified to leave her home to knowing that she had the support of an entire team of professionals behind her. And while Winnie still has a long road before her on her path towards justice and healing, she does not have to walk this road alone. And this, friends, this is a BIG victory.
*Names changed to protect client’s identity.