Plea for special gender-based violence strategy as complaints rocket
Johannesburg – The Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) is "vehemently insistent" that the government come up with special strategies for dealing with gender-based violence (GBV) and child abuse as complaints drastically increased in the first week of the Covid-19 lockdown, the trade union federation said on Sunday.
Complaints to the SAPS breached the 87,000 mark, as reported by Police Minister Bheki Cele, during the first week of the national Covid-19 lockdown, Fedusa said.
The calls from women living in abusive relationships included a complaint against a police officer who had allegedly raped his wife. The officer had since been arrested, Fedusa said.
"Fedusa is concerned about the lack of clarity about the role of courts in the wake of this special crisis and wants these new anti-GBV strategies to especially include official assurances that courts will be open for the issuing of the protection orders against perpetrators of domestic violence during the national lockdown," Fedusa vice president for social justice and gender Dorothy Nokuzola Ndhlovu said.
"These include provisions for ejecting perpetrators from their families and detaining them in places of quarantine.
"Covid–19 protocols should be deliberately reviewed to allow women and children who have suffered from domestic abuse to travel to their local police to lay charges against perpetrators, whether they be partners, fathers, family, or strangers," she said.
Fedusa also appealed to the government to increase the number of mobile clinics, both for Covid-19 testing and for treating victims of gender-based violence in all regions of the country, with a special focus on vulnerable areas such as densely populated townships and informal settlements.
The mobile clinics should include staff or other health workers specially trained in handling and managing gender-based violence, including providing psychological support for the victims.
The Government should also make the details of the GBV Command Centre - 0800-428-428 or *120*786# - widely known and available across communities throughout the country, in line with the standardised communications protocols that had been endorsed by social partners "for telescoping across all platforms".
"Fedusa equally appeals to members of the SANDF and other law enforcement authorities to respect the human rights and dignity of citizens, especially essential services workers who are called out there to work during this difficult time, and for the ministry of women and children to sustain the campaign for the ratification and domestication of (International Labour Organisation) Convention 190 and raising awareness around it," Fedusa said.
African News Agency (ANA)