‘Abused women should be supported’

Johannesburg - Gender-based violence victims should receive support no matter who they are and where they live, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini said on Tuesday.

“Gender-based violence remains one of the major challenges confronting South Africa today,” she said in a speech prepared for delivery at the launch of the Command Centre on gender-based violence in Pretoria.

Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini. Photo: Etienne Creux. Credit: INLSA

For too long violence against women and children had remained a hidden scandal in homes and communities.

The minister said according to a study in 2011 by Gender Links and the Medical Research Council, 71 percent of women were sexually abused. It also found that a woman was raped every 26 seconds.

“Research shows that domestic violence against women was under-reported, and victims of violence are not effectively supported by public services.”

Launching the command centre was a step forward to eradicate violence against women.

The centre would be piloted for six months in parts of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, she said.

“The command centre we are launching today [Tuesday] forms part of the five-year Programme of Action Plan developed by the Cabinet to investigate the root causes of gender-based violence.”

The victims would be provided with support and counselling through the centre.

“The command centre is aimed at providing immediate psychological assistance and referral to victims affected by gender-based violence and to assist them in avoiding additional exposure to violence.”

They would call a toll-free number 0800-428-428 to speak to a social worker.

“Callers can also request a social worker from the command centre to contact them by dialling *120*7867# from a cellphone.”

Dlamini said the centre would also help in the prosecution of perpetrators.

“Information collected throughout the intervention process by all role players can be made available to the courts as evidence, especially the sexual offenses courts.”