Rise in gender-based violence during Covid-19 lockdown 'abhorrent': union
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Johannesburg - The National Education, Health, and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) has noted "with anger the perpetual and persistent rise" in cases of violence directed at women and children, rape, and femicide, especially during the coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown.
"Reports suggests that the number of gender-based violence (GBV) cases has risen by 500 percent since the start of the Covid-19 lockdown," Nehawu said in a statement on Saturday.
"We find it abhorrent that women continue to be killed and abused, mostly by people close to them. The Covid-19 crisis has exacerbated the problems faced by women in abusive relationships, because they become trapped with their abusers with no possibility to escape or call for help," the trade union said.
While the entire country was mourning the eight months pregnant Tshegofatso Pule, 21, who was buried on Thursday after she was recently found hanging from a tree in Roodepoort in Johannesburg with multiple stab wounds to her chest, the body of another young woman was found dumped under a tree in an open veld in Dobsonville in Soweto in Johannesburg. And in Khayelitsha in Cape Town, 34-year-old Sibongiseni Gabada’s decomposing body was found "chopped into pieces and stuffed inside a sports bag".
Just recently, a Nehawu shop steward, Tebogo Dikeledi Auspicious Matsane-Mabunda, was killed after an alleged domestic dispute in Mpumalanga. Nehawu applauded the decision by the judge not to grant the defendant bail and called on all its members and the community of Nelspruit to support her family as the matter went to trial on August 3 in the Nelspruit District Court.
"As Nehawu, we believe that the issue of gender-based violence, rape, and femicide is a crisis that is tearing our society apart and affects every community in the country. In this regard, we call on all members of society to join hands in ending violence directed at women and children. Moreover, law enforcement agencies should act decisively against all perpetrators of gender-based violence and work with relevant stakeholders to fight violence in schools and communities," the union said.
"We call on victims not to suffer in silence and report perpetrators to law enforcement agencies. Moreover, we commit ourselves to continue fighting for the interests of workers and pursue the struggle against domestic and gender-based violence."