Miranda Jordan-Friedmann became acutely aware of children’s rights while attending law classes in the early 1990’s at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. It was a time of excitement and upheaval in the politics of South Africa.
Nelson Mandela and the ANC, amongst other parties and entities, had been unbanned and were all jostling for attention. It was a time of fierce activism at universities and other academic institutions throughout South Africa. Almost everyone at the time was aligning themselves to a cause – almost any cause – as the political turmoil was diverting attention away from other societal issues.
While working for Linda Goodman at the Goodman Gallery, Miranda was given the leeway by her employer to attend rallies and marches where she, with many other like-minded people, started becoming vocal about the most vulnerable in society – the children.
The horrific abuse case of baby Samantha in 1994 saw this group of activists uniting to form and found the Child Abuse Action Group where Miranda became a director. This became a hard-hitting advocacy group with much more radical-type protests. This Group made sure that the Samantha case and others were highlighted in the media. Children’s rights were now receiving mainstream media attention – their activism started paying dividends.
Three years later saw Miranda evolve from pure activism to that of becoming more involved in service delivery. She joined Women & Men against Child Abuse in 1997 where she presently holds the title of Founding Director.
In 1999, Miranda, largely influenced by the work of the Teddy Bear Clinic, initiated a unique project in Boksburg – the first Kidz Clinic, unique in its kind. She identified this area as being largely under-serviced with abuse cases being sent to Pretoria. This clinic offered a one-stop service – from treatment to prepping for court cases – for free.
The next clinic was established in the Alexandra township, followed by Orange Farm, Duduza and Verulam in Kwa-Zulu Natal. Each clinic operated in a manner best suited to service the diverse interests of that community which includes all spectrums of race.
The incredible thing about the growth of the Kidz Clinic projects was that it does just take you over. You cannot really set your goals as the opportunities just arise and challenge you,”says Miranda.
“It is amazing that after 22 years in this field you are still surprised at the different types of abuse cases that still emerge – take the furore of the initiation classes and bullying at Parktown Boys High. That mother who broke that story is incredibly brave. We need to all remain vigilant. If that is happening at a private school can you imagine what is happening in government schools?”, says Miranda, refusing to become any less vocal in advocating the rights of all children.
With a total staff complement of 30, Miranda manages the now two Kidz Clinics with complete support from her clinic personnel and the dedication and passion of the small head office component which manages the overall administration and fundraising. The Kidz Clinics accept an average of 45 new cases of child abuse every month with over 170 follow-up sessions conducted per month.
Miranda is part of the National Sexual Offences Working Group that provide government with submissions to enhance the Children’s Bill as well as the Sexual Offences Bill. Members of this group are all highly respected and work in the arena of children and women abuse. Miranda’s input together with other role players do make a difference for the well-being and protection of all children and women in South Africa.
Recognised for her extensive knowledge in the field of child abuse, Miranda receives invitations to speak at Child Abuse Conferences and is sought after by the media to provide regular comment on current abuse cases.
Miranda was part of the team instrumental in getting a High Court ruling that the 20-year prescription period on reporting Sexual Assault (formerly Indecent Assault of Molestation) is unconstitutional.
2017- When Bob Hewitt went to jail, Miranda was there at the prison as it happened. After 5 years of campaigning and supporting the victims, this landmark conviction is a victory for all survivors of childhood sexual abuse (historical abuse). It shows that time and celebrity status will no longer protect predators from facing justice.
It is Miranda’s goal to eradicate all forms of abuse of women and children living in South Africa.
She adds, “One does not choose this line of work, it chooses you. Regardless of where I may be in the future, I remain passionate that the service the Kidz Clinics offer remains accessible, and free, and that our Advocacy initiatives continue to challenge ineffective systems and legislation.”