Overcoming hate through relationship building

Accredited training to improve access to services for the LGBTI community in Kroonstad, FS

Kroonstad, Free State, South Africa – In response to the aftermath of the brutal rape and murder of lesbian activist Nonki Smous in Kroonstad earlier this year, and the subsequent threats made to many of the local LGBTI community members, Enza Social Research set up and rolled out a crucial, accredited training intervention from 2-4 August 2017 at the Moqhaka Local Municipality in Maokeng, Kroonstad.

This training was not only aimed at creating relationships between local LGBTI activists and police, health and social workers from the area, but critically sought to improve access to social, health and justice services for the LGBTI community in Kroonstad.

Significantly, the participants signed a pledge on the last day of training, committing to work together to provide safe and supportive environments for LGBTI persons who experience sexual and gender based violence.

Local activist, Nthabiseng Mokanyane, confirmed that the session created a starting point for further dialogue, saying that, “I think if we can change perceptions, and that’s what this training is doing, it is helping to open eyes to see that we are humans; we may be victims but when you treat me, treat me as a human, not as someone who … doesn’t deserve services from the government.”

 

“The session has created a platform where we can start the conversation with the LGBTI community beyond the training itself and discuss how community members can come on board” said a participant of the training. “We have also established the partnerships with other government departments, and one thing that binds us all is the Batho Pele principles which requires us to be professional … and help all people equally.”

 

“We have to sustain what has been started,” said another participant, “This training is the baseline – we must have communication with the community, and measure ourselves against this. We want to strive to serve all our people.”

 

Tracy Jean-Pierre, who facilitated the training, said, “working with all sectors and the community to begin to build relationships and address prejudice was an important first step in finding solutions. Enza will continue to roll out the model in efforts to prevent violence and ensure justice for lesbian women.”

Enza’s intervention targets capacity building and behaviour change among justice, social and healthcare workers who are first responders to sexual assault, enabling them to competently provide the necessary support to survivors to ensure access to healthcare services and improve prospects for positive health outcomes.

Enza’s vision is for a world where LGBTI people can live free of the fear of violence, access critical social, health and justice services and enjoy a full set of rights. Enza exists to provide cutting edge research and deliver programmes that shift attitudes and behaviours, through both systemic change and community development.

 

Picture credit: Vicci Tallis

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