Over a thousand community members and stakeholders from across the eThekwini Municipality packed into the Wentworth Community Hall this Sunday July 8 to commemorate the first community initiated Violence Free Zone. Launching in the suburb of Wentworth, the zone represents community driven action to prevent gender-based violence and has inspired the set-up of further Violence Free Zones across the district. Hosted by the Prevention In Action (PIA) social movement and Wentworth Brothers for Life chapter, who, together with community, developed the zones, the celebration was supported by a number of Wentworth community based partners including the Wentworth SAPS, Wentworth Taxi Association.
The event was also attended by representatives from the KwaZulu-Natal Premier's Office and from the U.S. Government. Consul General, Tayler Ruggles, from the US Consolate in Durban comments, "The Wentworth Violence Free Zone is an outstanding achievement for which you should all be very proud. We (USAID / PEPFAR) are proud to be able to partner with you to make your dreams a reality.
Dr Queeneth Mkhabela of the Office on the Status of Women, KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government said, "We are grateful to be part of this event. In KZN, July is men's month, and so the partnership between PIA and Brothers for Life is something we can all learn from. Men and women must work together to eradicate gender based violence. Violence free zones are a commendable action to prevent violence in our communities and the Kwa-Zulu Natal province." Kicking off the celebration was the unveiling of the first Violence Free Zone signage on the corner of Woodville and Tuin Roads. The PIA members responsible for the Zone, Magadalene Turner and Arlene.
Glover, spoke about the necessity of working together as a community towards a supportive, violence free environment and commented that they feel very motivated to sustain the zones and will work towards ensuring that they remain violence free. The concept of Violence Free Zones came about as part of a bid by partners PIA and Brothers for Life Wentworth to reach out to the local community and to mobilize them into shifting their response to abuse and violence from inaction, to one of prevention driven through community action. PIA is part of a community led social mobilisation program to prevent violence against women and other forms of gender-based violence.
In operation since 2009, it has been implemented by the KwaZulu-Natal Network on Violence Against Women together with their public and civil society sector partners and Project Concern International (PCI). Funding has generously been provided by the U.S President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the United States Agency for International Development(USAID).The celebration also included the launch of another aspect of the campaign, 'Taxi Talk", created in collaboration with the Wentworth Taxi Association. Taxi Talk includes 70 branded taxis that will playmusic from the platinum selling artist, JAE, with lyrics carrying key messages around the prevention of violence against women. Interactive radio-drama skits will also get air-time, engaging passengers to 'do the right thing' by taking appropriate actions to prevent gender-based violence in the community. The event culminated with a motorcade showing the branded taxis displaying the message: "This taxi moves people who do the right thing by taking action to prevent gender based violence."