You’ve seen her on TV and in the newspapers. You’ve heard her on radio stations and podcasts. And if you’ve been to GBV marches in the city centre of Cape Town, you best believe you’ve listened to her voice advocating for the protection of women and children’s bodies.
I’m talking about Lucinda Evans, an activist who does not back down when fighting for justice. Evans is the founder and director of the NPO Philisa Abafazi Bethu and is well known in Steenberg – where her organisation is based – and in and around Cape Town.
Her work has been recognised internationally. For example, France recognised her bravery for the frontline work on the Cape Flats in gender-based violence prevention in 2016. As a result, South Africa’s French Ambassador awarded her with the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur (Knight in the Legion of Honour), which is rarely given to non-French individuals. She has also co-led marches like the Am I Next March in Cape Town.
Evans describes herself as a ‘Human Rights Defender’, which is evident in her work. The centre she heads renders a range of services, including a support group for young women suffering from domestic and sexual abuse, an abused elderly support group, and the organisation has an emergency safe house that accommodates women and children who have been abused.
“My daughter and the girl-children in my program are not safe as young women. They cannot go where they want to go, wear what they want, or walk around with their cellphones visible,” she explains her motivation. “I am raising a son that understands how men should treat and protect women. The women in our home hold an equal place where we share chores like cooking and cleaning. That’s what gets me up in the morning,” she said.
GBV has been dubbed the second pandemic in South Africa and is a concern for many citizens in our country. Evans confirms that violence against women is out of control in her community. She pledged to ensure that those responsible for ensuring that women are safe are kept accountable.
“From the Health Department to Social Development to Safety – should be held accountable,” she says. “With that said it is also important to change the narrative in households and families that promote patriarchy that women and girl-children have an equal status in the family. We promote this through our programs”.
If she was to be elected president tomorrow, Evans says she would build a big prison on St Helena Island for those who stole from the country and send them there, as her first order.
“I will immediately scrape all racial classification; in fact, every employer should have all racial groups and gender equality, including LGBTQIA and people with disabilities working for them.
“Legalise sex work with employee benefits, legalise polyandry, appoint women as provincial premiers and men as their deputies. The minister of police should be a woman, with her deputy a man. We need an overhaul in the Department of Justice and retraining of magistrates on GBV and rape,” she says.
Evans adds that she would also build forensic labs in every province with linkages to trace and track serial rapists via their DNA.
“The CAS DNA systems in police stations across provinces should be linked like hospitals. The system should pick up on perpetrators. And gang violence should be classified as treason. If you are caught with an illegal firearm, you should get 25 years imprisonment; if you’re a Gang Boss, you should get 50 years,” she says.