Offering tangible help in fight against GBV is very important
By Wendy Tlou
As the country readies for the annual 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children, the focus on gender-based violence has become starker against the backdrop of a global pandemic.
This a UN campaign which takes place annually from November 25 (International Day of No Violence against Women) to December 10 (International Human Rights Day).
Given the scourge of gender-based violence in South Africa, government is implementing the Emergency Response Action Plan on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide, which was announced by President Cyril Ramaposa last September.
The 16 Days campaign forms the centre point of government’s comprehensive 365 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children.
During this period, government together with civil society and the private sector will host a series of community and sector dialogues and activities to foster a collaborative effort in dealing with gender-based violence and femicide.
And this week, GBVF will make an unwelcome return to the collective South African psyche when Ramaphosa marks the start of the 16 Days of Activism with a visit to the Solidarity Fund’s National GBV Command Centre this week.
But then again, the “other pandemic” did not go anywhere. In fact, the numbers in GBV are as alarming as any pandemic surge.
When the coronavirus pandemic arrived on our shores and lockdown began, the already shockingly high GBV numbers leapt even higher.
According to Police Minister Bheki Cele, over 2 300 GBV-related calls to the SAPS were registered between March 27-31. At the GBV Command Centre, data-free messages to the centre’s phone number increased more than tenfold and SMSs streamed in at double the usual daily rate.
By April 22, the centre had received 12 702 calls since the start of lockdown.
The Solidarity Fund was initiated by Ramaphosa in March to mitigate financial and family lockdown challenges.
The fund’s first GBV intervention was to allocate R17 million focussed primarily on bolstering the already existing services offered by national centres and resources that gave support, shelter and advice to all victims.
With 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children coming up, drowning out the noise and offering tangible assistance becomes even more critical.
Lack of information about the resources available to victims is a key concern and the fund quickly realised that any intervention aimed at making a real and sustainable difference to the scourge of GBV would have to include a 360 educational campaign.
Elements in this campaign include information collateral to be distributed across Thuthuzela care centres and 78-member shelters of the National Shelter Movement of South Africa, national editorial, radio, print and social media campaign.
*For more information, visit www. solidarityfund.co.za. You can also send “Hi” to WhatsApp number 060 053 5502.
A call centre is available Monday to Friday 8am to 5pm on 0800 079 609.