Tearfund honoured for project tackling gender-based violence

Christian relief and development charity Tearfund has been named winner of a prestigious award for its sexual and gender-based violence work in South Africa.

The charity won in the international aid and development category at the 2018 Charity Awards from Civil Society Media.

Geoff Crawford/TearfundTearfund combats gender-based violence in countries including Congo, where this photo was taken. It won an award for its work in Kwa-Zulu Natal.

The annual awards programme helps to recognise and reward organisations doing exceptional work in all areas of charitable activity.

Tearfund's project is based in KwaZulu-Natal, where a high proportion of men – 46 per cent – admit to perpetrating gender-based violence. The project is built around what survivors themselves saw as priorities: to have a safe space to reflect and heal, to be able share their stories with others who had faced a similar ordeal, and for their leaders to speak out on the issue.

It has been running for just over three years and is now a locally-owned, shaped and sustained movement supporting 547 survivors, with 21 volunteering as 'champions' across 150 safe spaces.

Some 90 per cent of survivors said they had spoken out for the first time, improvements were recorded to survivors' quality of life across a range of physical and mental indicators, and engagement with the issue among faith leaders increased.

Tearfund is now exploring how it can support similar movements in other countries.

Chief executive Nigel Harris, said: 'Sexual and gender-based violence is one of the most damaging problems within societies across the world. This new project equipped and empowered survivors to work together, support each other and bring about transformation in their own lives. We are honoured that the Charity Awards have recognised the importance of putting people at the heart of international aid and development work, and are excited to see this new model being used elsewhere.'