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May 2021 2nd edition

Helping victims of GBV get justice

Written by More Matshediso

Free legal help is available for GBV victims.

There is help at hand for victims of gender-based violence (GBV) who cannot afford legal services.

The South African Women Lawyers Association (SAWLA) is a non-profit and non-political organisation consisting of female lawyers who assist women and girls who are in need of legal services but cannot afford them.

The organisation’s Secretary General Mpho Kgabi says SAWLA is actively participating in the National Strategic Plan on GBV and supports initiatives that seek to curb GBV.

“We are making sure that all women who are subjected to GBV and cannot afford lawyers are assisted by SAWLA members for free,” says Kgabi. 

The purpose of the organisation is to transform the legal profession, empower female lawyers and give a voice to all women.

“SAWLA believes that the South African society is still steeped in patriarchal attitudes that continue to blame victims and survivors of GBV instead of confronting the perpetrators,” says Kgabi.

To address this challenge, Kgabi says the organisation is committed to advancing human rights and equal justice for all, and is active in safeguarding women’s and girls’ rights to eradicate GBV and build a better country.

SAWLA also provides criminal defence, divorce and domestic violence services and sources its expertise according to its members’ needs.

“We have 250 members, some of whom are self-employed as attorneys or advocates. Others are employed by government, state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and corporate companies. Others are magistrates, prosecutors and law students,” says Kgabi.

It also partners with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities.

SAWLA also works closely with SOEs like the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration; Legal Aid South Africa; Black Lawyers Association; National Association of Democratic Lawyers; and Women of South Africa.

For more information, email SAWLA at president@sawla.net, mphok@legal-aid.co.za or secretary@sawla.net.