The Covid-19 global pandemic and the resulting lockdowns have resulted in an increase in gender-based violence (GBV). GBV is a pandemic inside a pandemic and it is affecting many women and children with little to no cure insight.
This has been evident from the spike of 2 230 reported GBV cases during the first week of the national lockdown, 30% more than the same period last year. GBV is a grave violation of human rights and it has the potential of life long negative health consequences for the victim and may even be fatal.
Victims of GBV often resort to silence, not because they accept it, but because of fear, embarrassment, and even shame. Other factors such as culture, social and financial insecurity, etc. also play a role in keeping those in abusive relationships in silence.
The recent violent and senseless murders of 28-year-old pregnant Ms. Tshegofatso Pule and 26-year-old Ms. Naledi Phangindawo have once again sparked calls from various civil society organisations for the government to intervene and address the issue of GBV head-on.
UASA joins these calls to the government and we are asking them to consider rectifying and implementing the International Labour Organisations (ILO) C190 ratification to end Gender-Based Violence and Harassment in the workplace with no delay. Much work has been done by the government to address the issue of GBV but to date, they have not yet agreed to the international treaty that seeks to protect our women and people in vulnerable groups from violence.
The government needs to fast track the ratification and implementation of C190 and proceed to implement female empowerment, education, and protection programs to bring femicide in South Africa to an end.
In the meantime, if you know of, or are concerned about someone in an abusive relationship you can:
- Keep in touch with the victim regularly to check on their safety, however always ensure that it is safe for them to be in touch with you. You do not want to cause more harm.
- Get information on services available for victims of abuse during the lockdown, e.g. hotlines, shelters, counselling services, and other relevant organisations. Make this information available to the victim indirectly through social media or other networks, or directly, but discreetly, without the perpetrator finding out.
- Be ready to provide urgent help through calling a hotline, emergency health services, police, etc. and advise the victim of your availability and willingness to help.
GBV Command Centre on 0800-428-428 or *120*786#.
National GBV Helpline: 0800 150 150
LifeLine South Africa: 0861 322 322
National Counselling Line: 0861 322 322
Childline South Africa: 0800 055 555
South African Police Service: 10111
Legal Aid: 0800 110 110
Gender-based Violence is everyone’s business. Let us all stand together to support and help the victims.