University of Western Cape Nursing Students Address Gender-Based Violence

While the spotlight often falls on physical or emotional abuse, many women are victims of financial abuse. Final-year nursing students from the University of the Western Cape (UWC) highlighted this and other nuances of domestic violence during their Gender-Based Violence Awareness Campaign at Valkenberg Hospital on September 26, 2023.


“Gender-based violence is a very concerning issue in our communities. It affects us all – from various backgrounds and orientations – and can manifest itself in various forms such as violence, emotional as well as financial abuse,” said nursing student Lona Qaqambile Mbelani.


Mbelani was one of the students who addressed patients and staff at the health facility. Other critical issues under discussion included the characteristics of gender-based violence, how to detect if someone is a victim and which protocols to follow to report incidents.


Ahead of the national 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign last year, Charnel Collins, CEO of National Debt Advisors, explained that financial abuse often goes unreported. Often, women are not even aware that they are victims.

In an article, she explained: “The woman is often the primary breadwinner. However, her partner demands to control the finances, leading her to believe that the partner is being supportive. Unfortunately, this can lead to further emotional and mental abuse. The woman, unfortunately, becomes financially dependent on their partner and unable to exit the relationship”.



The students also invited Tohira Jardien, a counselling coordinator at Rape Crisis, to explain which services they offer victims. While the organisation has a strong footprint in Observatory, Athlone and Khayelitsha, it works throughout the Cape Metropole. Established in 1976, Rape Crisis is one of the most experienced organisations in South Africa addressing adult rape and sexual violence. They offer counselling to rape and gender-based violence victims, conduct advocacy campaigns in the fight against gender-based violence, and offer training and workshops. Furthermore, they collaborate with various justice clusters, including the South African Police Services, the National Prosecuting Authority and the Department of Social Development to assist victims. “I urge people to keep an open mind about rape and gender-based violence; its endemic and is tearing our society apart – breaking family structures and affecting the victims immensely,” said Jardien.


Patients heeded the call to discuss their experiences and ask questions. The audience received pamphlets which contained crucial information to refer to when needed.


Students who participated were Kesha Lee-Swart, Lwando Nkankula, Snethemba Ndima, Lee-Madre Magerman, Lona Mbelani, Zena Munganyinka Ahamad, Diana Nyawira Gathiaka, Amanda Butana, Cwenga Gqala, Nasiphi Damane, Nomzamo Qamata, Bridget Mbashe and Francine Niyonzima.

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