Tongaat Hulett partnered with eThekwini Municipality and the South African Police Services (SAPS) to launch an awareness campaign on Gender Based Violence (GBV) during the month of August. The key message during the campaign was that GBV is not a women’s issue, it is a family issue that ultimately affects the entire community. The campaign encouraged all community members, including men, to be part of the solution by creating a safe environment for women and children.
This initiative was extremely important to Huletts, as South Africa has one of the highest rates of GBV in the world. It is estimated that three women are killed every day at the hands of their partners in SA, and that the country has the highest rates of reported rape cases in the world with approximately 50 000 reported cases every year.
Apart from the physical and psychological damage that affected women have to endure, the abuse also burdens the health and welfare systems as resources are redirected to support the victims and survivors of GBV. The victims and survivors of GBV have lifelong physical and mental health issues. These individuals suffer from depression or post traumatic stress while some become suicidal, and others resort to using drugs and alcohol to numb the pain and cope with their trauma.
The campaign started at the Tongaat taxi rank and then moved to the Hambanathi and Magwaveni communities. Representatives from the Municipality, SAPS and Tongaat distributed pamphlets containing information about GBV and examples of the various forms of GBV were shared with the public.
The main objective of this was to educate the public to the fact that violence, and particularly gender based violence, is a violation of the fundamental right to life, security, dignity, and mental integrity and that it must be uprooted from our communities.
Men and women were encouraged to build and maintain healthy relationships based on mutual respect. The aim was to promote a culture where there is no room for violence of any form in Tongaat. Tongaat Hulett has zero tolerance for GBV. On Women’s Day, 9 August, Gavin Hudson, CEO of the company, invited all employees – both men and women – at Tongaat Hulett to do their part and stand up against the scourge of GBV.
Ultimately, Tongaat Hulett Sugar became involved in the campaign to encourage stakeholders, particularly the community in and around the company’s Maidstone mill, to stand up against this scourge. Although GBV happens in private, it is not a private issue. It affects families, children, colleagues within the workplace and communities.
Huletts believes that breaking the silence on GBV is the first step to preventing it.