Covid-19 lockdown: Neighbours asked to be vigilant of those vulnerable to GBV
Cape Town - Women are most at risk from violence in their homes, and for many who are abused by their male partners, the lockdown will be a nightmare.
This according to Floretta Boonzaier, a psychologist and professor at UCT.
Boonzaier said intimate partner violence (IPV) was an issue that was hugely silenced in our context as we often focused on violence women might be subjected to outside their homes.
“IPV is also quite normalised as men feel it is their right to control women partners through various means, including violence. For many women who are abused (in a lot of different ways) by their male partners, the lockdown will be a nightmare as it will pose a situation in which women will not be able to leave their homes for some reprieve from the violence - as in going to a friend or family member,” she explained.
She said neighbours should be more vigilant and alert to the fact that women might be more vulnerable to GBV at this time.
“There have been a number of resources published along with the Covid-19 hotline numbers published by the government - including the GBV hotline number - so at least there has been recognition of this fact. They should also make a note of the numbers that have been published, as well as calling the police when necessary.”
Professor Catherine Ward from UCT’s Department of Psychology said women and children under lockdown with their abusers were at high risk. However, she said departments such as the Department of Social Development and others would still be available should anyone reach out to them.
Ward added that the rate of reported child abuse also increased during school closures.
“Parents and children are living with increased stress, media hype and fear, all challenging our capacity for tolerance and long-term thinking. For many, the economic impact of the crisis increases parenting stress, abuse and violence against children.”
Zintle Olayi, member of #TheTotalShutdown, said the only tangible solution would be to remove the perpetrator from the home and leave the victim/survivor in peace.
Olayi said: “Violence perpetrated against women and children is likely to increase during the lockdown. I think it’s unfair that in most cases it’s the victim/survivor who is removed from their home, and not the perpetrator.”
Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu said that there are over 100 shelters for women during the justice cluster briefing on Wednesday.
"We are going to work closely with the Minister of Justice [and Correctional Services Michael Masutha] and police to make sure that when it comes to issues of violence against women and children, that attention is given. We did mention that when people are at home, and when everybody is at home, sometimes the tempers rise... This is not the time for people to really engage in abusing women and children, or really anybody."
The number for the GBV command centre is: 0800 428 428.