Lawyers against Abuse (LvA) is a non-profit organisation that provides free legal and psychosocial support services to victims of gender-based violence (GBV) in Diepsloot, an informal settlement of 500 000 people in northern Johannesburg, known for its criminality, lack of infrastructure, and abject poverty. Recent research has revealed that levels of GBV in Diepsloot are more than double the prevalence rates in other parts of the country. GBV, which includes sexual violence, domestic violence, and child abuse, often has a disproportionate impact on women and children from poorer, marginalised communities such as Diepsloot.
Our work focuses on the following four programme areas:
- Direct Legal Services: providing professional and nuanced legal services to assist clients in securing protection orders and pursuing criminal cases of rape and assault in a domestic violence context;
- Psychosocial Support: providing individual and group-based trauma counselling and supportive therapy;
- Community Engagement: conducting targeted outreach and workshops for young women, learners, and teachers to empower the community and raise awareness of legal rights and remedies around GBV; and,
- State Actor Engagement: strategically and consistently interacting with key actors within the justice system in order to build capacity and improve enforcement of existing GBV laws.
Since 2014, LvA has provided assistance to over 500 GBV victims, securing final protection orders for 74% of our clients seeking orders and providing support in over 50 criminal cases. Furthermore, we have provided workshops on sexual violence to 2 400 learners and teachers, engaged over 18 000 community members through outreach initiatives, and developed strong relationships with local police and court officials.