GBV Activist to Survivor Leader

“Changing Scars to Stars, from being a victim to Victors! Our work will only be done when there is Zero GBV against women, girls and LGBTQI community in our INK Township”

From advocating for women and girls access to strengthen violence prevention mechanism and creating a protective safe environment for women and girls through GBV awareness and advocating for a care centre for rape victims, becoming a survivor leader came naturally. Under the leadership of Cookie, I have learned to be closer than close to survivors in Inanda and surrounding areas.

Joyce Msomi has been advocating for girls and women from 2005 after her own GBV experience, which nearly cost her, her life. At that time, she did not know anything about advocacy all she wanted was to assist women who had gone through what she had experienced to survive and find a way to survive again.

In 2015, after experiencing her second GBV incident, she was advised by her counsellor as part of her healing to find something that makes her happy, and again as her heart is in women and girls she wanted to build a strong support structure for survivors in the townships of Inanda, Ntuzuma & Kwamashu (INK townships).

In 2019, Joyce was introduced into advocacy work and since then she hasn’t turn back from advocating for women and girls to live in a GBV free environment. Joyce provides support in offering support to gender based violence; survivors, referrals to different service providers like health, psychologically assistance, legal assistance etc. making sure that women and girls get the best assistance and support they need to overcome the abuse they go through.

In December 2020 Joyce was introduced to Cookie Edwards during 16 days of activism where they both were invited as speakers in a women’s round table dialogue which led to Joyce being introduced to KZN NETWORK in which currently she is a rapid response team leader in Inanda which is one of the hotspots with highest GBV cases in SA.

Joyce has embarked on a journey of advocating for care centre for survivors of INK townships where she grew up as well. Through assisting survivors in Inanda, her struggle was to find somewhere to refer survivors for immediate assistance, which has been an ongoing struggle as there is no survivor care centre, drop-in centre or a safe house for GBV victims in Inanda.

Meeting Cookie was a light in our advocacy work and providing support structure for Inanda survivors. Through ASIKHULUME/LETS TALK advocacy project Joyce has been able to form and lead a steering committee to advocate for a care centre for GBV victims. This steering team is made up of different organisations that deal with GBV cases on daily basis, civil society and other stakeholders. Joyce has also established a support group for GBV victims and LGBTQI community where she offers, counselling support, case referrals, GBV awareness, healing support, court support. Joyce also runs programs which assist survivors with job placement, skills development & learnership. Making sure that survivors are able to live again and be financially independent so as to break the chain of survivors continuing living with perpetrators just in the name of financial provision and shelter provision which most of the time end up costing the life of a survivor or that of their children.

The work on ending GBV in Inanda has enabled Joyce to work with KZN Network has made her one of rapid response team leaders. This has made her work much easier as through the RRT training she has a structured chain of support to assist survivors. Through RRT she has been able to network with relevant stakeholders forming a strong support network for survivors in which Joyce is now able to assist from 10 to 20 survivors a month.

In Joyce’s own words, “As a rapid response team leader it has become easy to provide a support structure to survivors. By empowering women and girls on GBV awareness information, assisting women to find the justice they deserve, making sure that the survivors turns to saviour’s; women who are victims become victors and are able to also continue with the chain to save other women by sharing their stories of their GBV scars that have now turned into Stars, so as women they continue Shining.

Being an RRT leader has opened many doors as well – through the leadership of Cookie we have been able to provide GBV survivors with food hampers as we are still hit with COVI-19 pandemic. Many families were able to have a hot meal every night and bread on the table.

I have no doubt that our Asikhulume/Let’s Talk advocacy for a survivor’s safe house for Inanda area will be accomplished, as through RRT there is vast networking and support towards one goal of making sure that survivors get the full support they greatly need. As a leader of the INK rapid response team there is more to accomplish, as we have full support from our leadership.