The SA’s human rights lawyer Bonita Meyersfeld will son be appointed a Knight of the National Order of Merit by France for her work addressing gender-based violence.
The award will be bestowed upon Meyersfeld by the ambassador of France to South Africa, Christophe Farnaud, at the French residence in Pretoria on Tuesday.
This is in recognition of her 20 years of work against gender-based violence in South Africa.
“The appointment recognises Professor Meyersfeld’s role in conceptualising and establishing Lawyers against Abuse (LvA), a non-profit organisation based in the informal settlement of Diepsloot, South Africa.
“Founded in 2011, LvA provides a cutting edge and unique service to victims of gender-based violence, integrating legal and psychosocial services to ensure that we travel the journey to justice and recovery with our clients,” LvA executive director Lindsay Henson said in a statement on Thursday.
LvA’s work includes providing legal and psychological support to more than 850 victims, assisting 528 clients with protection orders, supporting 163 clients pursuing criminal cases and providing more than 1 000 therapy sessions to 286 clients.
“LvA’s model works. We see meaningful, long term and successful support to hundreds of women and children resulting in a level of access to justice that is unprecedented.
“It is this model that Meyersfeld initiated, together with a remarkable team of founding members. We are thrilled about the recognition by the French president,” Henson added.
Meyersfeld says the recognition is a testament to thousands of survivors of gender-based violence.
“The Chevalier is testimony to the thousands of heroes who survive gender-based violence; to the powerful women who founded LvA; and to the women in our centre who work every day to make LvA the sanctuary and place of justice it is today,” she said.