How technology can fight SA’s pandemic of gender-based violence

By Yasmine Jacobs Time of article published Dec 2, 2020

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Cape Town - Technology has a significant role to play in preventing and combating gender-based violence (GBV).

This is according to Warren Myers, the founder and CEO of South Africa’s leading security and medical response platform, AURA.

Myers was part of a carefully-selected panel to discuss a new roadmap for technology and its role in addressing GBV during a live webinar.

South Africa’s annual 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children is currently underway, highlighting the scourge of GBV as well as the importance of tackling it.

The campaign started on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until Human Rights Day on 10 December.

Joining Myers on the panel in discussing the importance of safety and technology was Vumacam CEO Ricky Croock, Mara Glennie of the TEARS Foundation and Unam Mahlati, Senior Operations and Logistics Manager for Uber SA.

“Safety is a key pillar of a thriving society, a necessity for human flourishing, and a non-negotiable human right. The fact that women live in fear every day suppresses innovation and progress and jeopardises the very future of our nation,” said Myers.

Technology can be a useful tool in crime prevention by empowering women with the means to get assistance in the event they feel unsafe. “The AURA platform ensures anyone can access the technology that enables security companies to quickly reach victims of domestic abuse. It offers a safety net and peace of mind via on-demand emergency services where potential victims of crime can get help from the closest response vehicle in five minutes or less,” he says.

Myers added that they aim to change the mindset of perpetrators where they begin to feel a real fear of being apprehended.

As part of its commitment to making a difference during 2020’s 16 Days of Activism AURA will ensure the availability of 1 000 responses for the TEARS Foundation to assist them in their efforts in providing access to crisis intervention, advocacy, counselling, and prevention education services for those impacted by domestic violence, sexual assault and child sexual abuse.

TEARS’ free technology-based services which can be accessed by dialling *134*7355#, helps 88 217 victims of GBV per annum.

Last month, the Vodacom Foundation has announced the launch of a cutting-edge and free app designed to aid in the fight against GBV.

Bright Sky SA app is free to download on both iOS and Android devices on the App Store and Google Play Store respectively. It provides support and information for anyone who may be in an abusive relationship, or for those concerned about someone they know. It is available in English, IsiZulu and SeSotho.

Bright Sky’s features include a short questionnaire to help users identify different forms of abuse and the types of support available. It gives the user information about GBV, the different forms of GBV, and various case studies.

Using geolocation, the app provides information on support services available in South Africa, including a directory of police stations, hospitals and NGOs across the country. The app does not share anyone’s personal details and ensures the complete privacy of its users.

The statistics around GBV is shocking. One in four women will experience violence by men and are five times more likely to be killed. The economic cost to fight gender-based violence in South Africa is between R28 billion and R42.4 billion a year.


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