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Know your rights

written by Janeske Botes

Advertorial

Statistics tell a frightening story of women and children of all ages facing terrible circumstances, at home, at school, and in the workplace.

While many commentators during the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children focused on the problems we face in fighting the scourge of violence against women and children in this country, Legal Aid SA would like to start proposing solutions.

Where do we start in changing this?

Learn about your legal rights, and encourage others to do the same. How do you do this? Call our toll-free Advice Line on 0800 110 110 for professional legal advice, at no cost. If you cannot call, send a Please Call Me to 079 835 7179 and we will call you back. Knowing your legal rights empowers you and will enable you to put your rights first.

Legal Aid SA is a leader in the provision of legal advice and civil representation, especially protecting and defending the rights of women and children. Our focus on fulfilling our constitutional mandate, and meeting our promise of being your voice, for justice, motivates us to assist even more women and children facing abuse, in a number of forms.

In one of our matters, our legal practitioner Jaylynne Hillier was called in to represent a boy who was reported to be disruptive and uncontrollable by his mother. A social worker who was appointed to investigate the child’s home circumstances and behaviour recommended that the child was not in need of care and protection, citing that the boy had casually used dagga but had stopped.

After conducting her own investigation into the child’s behaviour and drug use, Hillier interviewed the boy, who then confessed to using tik, mandrax, alcohol and dagga. When interviewing the boy’s 10-year-old sister, Hillier asked more about their home and family circumstances and was told that the sister was being sexually assaulted by their father. She also said that she had informed their mother who reported this information to a social worker but the case was not investigated further. The boy confirmed that his drug use stemmed from witnessing his sister’s abuse, and that when he confronted his father, he would threaten him. Hillier immediately moved for an order that both children be moved into temporary safe care and for the boy to be admitted into a drug rehabilitation programme. She also requested an order that the father would not be allowed to enter the home where the children were. The Court granted both orders.

Both the son and daughter have been reunited with their mother and the father may still not enter the family home or have any contact with the daughter.

Your voice. For justice.

This is a stamp of promise from Legal Aid SA to those who have been rendered voiceless, that we will go to great lengths to ensure that you do not go unheard, nor unrepresented. We call on women and children to seek our legal advice and representation in civil and criminal matters, during these 16 days and beyond. Visit our qualified legal practitioners at any of our 64 Offices and 64 Satellite Offices, which are spread across the country.

Legal Aid SA wishes to see a society that has a clear knowledge of its legal rights and obligations – we are your voice for justice and we are here to help you.