The fight to END gender-based violence (GBV) has been at the forefront of conversation this Women’s Month as the Covid-19 lockdown has seen a surge in cases. SPAR has pledged to take action by offering tangible and sustainable support to victims. The upcoming SPAR Women’s Virtual Challenge is supporting this initiative by donating entry fee proceeds to organisations who provide support to victims of GBV.
SPAR have launched an ongoing campaign aimed at helping to END gender-based violence by using their vast footprint and media reach to offer GBV victims’ access to life-changing help. “SPAR has pledged to take action against gender-based violence by offering tangible support to victims on a sustainable basis. I commit myself and my organization to be part of working towards a practical solution to free our society from all gender-based violence,” says Graham O’Connor, CEO, SPAR Group Ltd.
SPAR has partnered with LifeLine and is also supporting many of the country’s care centres including the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children in the Western Cape, The Open Door Crisis Centre in KZN, the Port Elizabeth Rape Crisis Centre in the Eastern Cape and the Greater Rape Intervention Project in the Lowveld. The centres are supported by various SPAR initiatives like the Women’s Month ‘Make Change Happen’ bracelets currently being sold in SPAR stores nationwide.
The SPAR Women’s Virtual Challenge has extended SPAR’s footprint in supporting the fight against GBV. For every event entry, SPAR will be packing a food parcel for someone who has experienced GBV. The food parcels will be distributed with the help of event partner, the Jacaranda FM Good Morning Angels.
The Virtual Challenge campaign is also doing its part to bring as much as awareness to the GBV issue as possible. Two of the event ambassadors, Philicity Reeken and Leilani Kuter, have both experienced GBV and have used the Virtual Challenge platform to add their voices to the national conversation and to highlight the fact that South Africa still has a long way to go in the fight to END gender-based violence.
“I think we are falling short in a number of areas. Reporting cases is a nightmare for women who report them. Police investigation is deplorable. Bail is far too low and too easy to get. Rape apologists are everywhere, men don’t hold men accountable, and we are still seeing victim blaming and shaming. Ultimately the lack of education, poverty and basic humanity are just as much to blame,” says Philicity. She also feels that men can do more and play a pivotal role in this fight as well. “I think that men have to maybe start living in a woman’s world. I think until men accept the fact, that as women, we constantly feel like prey, and make a concerted attempt to make changes nothing will change.”
Both Leilani and Philicity have chosen to share their experiences publicly to help encourage others to do the same – and to offer advice, reassurance and hope to those who need it. There are thousands of people out there who are still battling the darkness of their experience and could use words of encouragement to help them find the light again.
Leilani advises that seeking professional help is crucial. “PLEASE start talking about it, see a professional person, start writing about it, reach out to support groups, reach out to me but please do not walk alone with the pain inside you. Nobody can assure a person that their life will be better, but I personally can assure you that your life can get better day by day if you take action. There is no miracle, but you deserve to have some wholeness.”
On behalf of SPAR, the SPAR Women’s Virtual Challenge race organising team have extended their gratitude to the overwhelming response to the event so far. “Thank you for entering the SPAR Women’s Virtual Challenge and backing our commitment to support those who have experienced gender-based violence and eradicating it,” says Jerome Jacobs, Divisional Marketing Director for SPAR South Rand.