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250,000 Danish kroner for South Africa

Violence against women is a widespread problem in South Africa where one in every five women is subjected to violence every year. One of the organizations that work persistently to reduce violence in the country is the organization Brothers for Life which HRH The Crown Princess visited during her travel to South Africa in November 2014. On her return to Denmark, The Crown Princess decided that The Mary Foundation’s special donation 2014 should go to the South African organization from which we can also learn something in Denmark.

Violence against women is one of the greatest crimes against human rights in the world today, and violence occurs in all layers of society, cultures and countries. South Africa has an especially widespread problem of violence and one of the organizations which strive to combat violence is Brothers for Life – an organization that, unlike many other initiatives, focuses on the role of the man when looking at violence dynamics. Brothers for Life has managed to spread the message that there are alternatives to abuse, and that the man can only gain by breaking the cycle of violence. The organization has succeeded in engaging former perpetrators as role models in the fight against domestic violence.

The Mary Foundation’s special donation 2014 goes to Brothers for Life and more specifically to the development and testing of a pilot project which aims to change the violent behavior of men by enhancing their skills in solving conflicts without use of violence. It is the ambition to use international experiences in the project, and experiences from Danish initiatives will most likely be used to inspire the South African effort.

In relation to the donation, The Mary Foundation has facilitated a dialogue between Brothers for Life and the Danish organization Dialog mod Vold (Dialogue against Violence). Dialog mod Vold has 15 years of experience in working with the dynamics of domestic violence and changing the behavior of abusive men. It is the hope that the collaboration will bring mutual benefits; that we, in Denmark, can learn from the South African experiences with involving men as role models, and that the development of the new pilot project  in South Africa will gain from the extensive Danish experiences.

“The dynamics of violence involve several parties and it is therefore necessary to look at the problem from several angles. There is of course a lot of focus on the women – and there should indeed be, but we must not forget the role and the actions of the men. If we wish to reduce violence against women, we have to take a broader look at the problem by not only relieving but also preventing that the violence occurs. It is therefore of great importance also to approach the abusers, like Brothers for Life has managed to do with great success – as an inspiration to other countries. With the special donation of the Mary Foundation, the organization will be able to develop and test new methods to prevent and relieve violence against women”, The Crown Princess and Chairman of the Mary Foundation says.

Brothers for Life plans to explore the international effort in early 2015 and to initiate the development of the programme during the spring of 2015. The South African organization is already in contact with Dialog mod Vold in Denmark.

Facts about violence in South Africa

  • One in five women is subjected to violence every year, and rape takes place every 26 seconds.
  • Every second woman is, at some point in her life, raped by a man.
  • More than a fourth of all men aged 18-49 have at some point raped a woman. In the case of 75% of the men, the rape takes place before they have reached the age of 20.

Source: UNFPA’s website.

Facts about violence in Denmark                   

  • At least 29,000 women are subjected to domestic violence every year.
  • An estimated 33,000 children witness domestic violence against a parent every year.
  • 9,500 women and 5,500 men aged 16-24 experience intimate partner violence every year.
  • 2.100 women take shelter at a women’s shelter every year
  • Approx. 1,900 children arrive at a women’s shelter with their mother every year.
  • The women’s shelters receive approx. 15,000 approaches from women every year.
  • Half of the women have lived with violence for more than three years when they arrive at a shelter
  • 45% of the women who arrive at a shelter are of other than Danish origin.
  • 85% of the children who arrive at a shelter have witnessed their mother being subjected to violence.
  • 36% of the children have been subjected to physical violence themselves.
  • Up to 80% of the abusers have experienced domestic violence as a child.
  • Domestic violence costs the Danish society approx. 280 million DKK per year (estimate from “Voldens pris”, Danish National Institute of Public Health, 2010.)

Dialog mod Vold (Dialogue against Violence)
Dialog mod Vold is Denmark’s leading organization when it comes to experiences in developing programmes aimed at abusive men. The aim of the programmes is to enable the abuser to lead a life free of violence – and the results are convincing. The Danish experiences are considered relevant to form the basis for development of best practices, testing and evaluation of a small-scale pilot project in South Africa.

Brothers for Life
Brothers for Life is a country-wide campaign in South Africa which has succeeded in engaging former male abusers as role models in the fight against domestic violence. Brothers for Life was originally established with the aim to reduce spread of HIV infection, but violence against women was quickly included as a central part of the work as HIV is often spread through sexual violence. Brothers for Life wishes to expand existing activities with a programme aimed at supporting the men in quitting violence – the first step is to identify best practices, then development, testing and evaluation of a small-scale pilot project. The Mary Foundation’s special donation 2014 will support this initiative, and if the project lives up to the current expectations, it will hopefully be disseminated at a larger scale in South Africa.

The Mary Foundation
The Mary Foundation’s work is based on strategic and viable partnerships where different forces join together in working for a common goal. In 2013 the annual donation went to a women’s shelter in Morocco where successful collaboration between women’s shelters in the country and Kvinfo (the Danish Centre for Information on Gender, Equality and Diversity), Danner and LOKK (the Danish National Organisation of Women's Crisis Centres) has strengthened the work to support women exposed to violence, in Denmark as well as Morocco. The Danish-Moroccan collaboration has since then been used as inspiration for a Danish-Greenlandic project, Kattunneq Women’s shelters of Greenland, where the aim is to strengthen the capacity development of staff at Greenlandic shelters. Initiated by the Mary Foundation, Kattunneq – Women’s Shelters of Greenland is today a collaborative project driven by the Mary Foundation, Danner, Greenland’s women’s shelters, the Government of Greenland and the Oak Foundation Denmark.


The Mary Foundation’s annual donation has previously supported:
2013: Tilila, a women’s shelter in Casablanca, Morocco (DKK 250,000 )
2012: Fórum Mulher, Mozambique (DKK 250,000)
2011: Orchid Project ( DKK 50,000). ”Afrika Nu”-collection (DKK 200,000)
2009: Maternity Worldwide, Ethiopia (DKK 250,000)
2008: The Danish Refugee Council, Uganda (DKK 250,000)