In October 2021, Aviation Co‐ordination Services (ACS) partnered with Lawyers against Abuse (LvA) in the fight against gender‐based violence (GBV). LvA is a non‐profit organisation that works to strengthen the justice system’s response to GBV by providing legal services and therapy to victims, engaging with state actors and empowering communities.
Despite progressive and victim‐centric legislation, GBV victims rarely see justice due to severe deficiencies in implementation by criminal justice state actors who fail to provide victims with the protection to which they are entitled under the law. These failures contribute to an environment where perpetrators of violence rarely face accountability for their actions. Compounding the problem is the lack of comprehensive support services for victims who are expected to navigate a complex and technical legal process alone, while facing these institutional and systemic barriers. In most cases, victims have no one to turn to for help when the system fails them.
LvA was founded in 2011 to fill this gap. Over the last ten years, LvA has cultivated an innovative and integrated approach to addressing GBV that works deeply in individual communities to strengthen the justice system’s response to GBV by partnering with local state actors and providing comprehensive support to individual victims of abuse.
LvA’s work focuses on the following four areas:
-Direct Legal Services: providing professional and nuanced legal services to assist clients in securing protection orders and pursuing criminal cases of sexual violence and assault.
-Psychosocial Support: providing trauma debriefing and individual and group‐based therapy and counselling.
-State Actor Engagement: strategically and consistently interacting with key actors within the justice system to create accountability, build capacity and strengthen the response of the criminal justice system;
-Community Engagement: conducting targeted outreach and workshops for community members to raise awareness of GBV and legal rights and remedies. LvA launched its pilot Centre in Diepsloot in 2014 and opened a second Centre in Orange Farm in 2021. To date, LvA has provided critical support to over 1,400 GBV victims, including assisting 749 clients with protection orders, supporting 323 clients pursuing criminal cases, and providing over 2,500therapy sessions to 516 clients. LvA has also developed strong partnerships with local police, courts, clinics, service providers, and community structures in both communities which have allowed LvA tocreate greater accountability and build capacity within the system. As LvA provides its services free of charge to the community, they are dependent on partners such as ACS for financial support.
To learn more about LvA’s work or how to get involved, visit www.lva.org.za