During health emergencies, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, violence against women tends to increase. Stress, the disruption of social and protective networks, loss of income and decreased access to services, all can intensify the risk of violence for women. This has been evident from the spike of 2 230 reported GBV cases during the first week of the national lockdown, 30% more than this time last year.
What is more worrying though, is the attitude shown towards GBV, it is taken as part of South African culture, a norm and thus, sadly, not considered serious by many.
GBV is a grave violation of human rights and it has the potential of life long negative health consequences for the victim and may even result in death.
Victims of domestic and GBV often resort to silence when faced with domestic violence, not because they accept it, but usually because of fear, embarrassment and even shame. These are often compounded by other factors such as culture, social and financial insecurity, our socialisation, etc.
With the increase in job losses as a result of the effects of the lockdown, there is bound to be a further upsurge in reported cases yet many will remain unreported due to the victims being unable to venture out to report, because they don’t have a valid excuse to give their abuser, or because they’re afraid of being confronted by police. Some may even be unable to make a call to one of the hotlines without their partner knowing about it. Others might also be staying home for fear of getting COVID-19, or bringing the virus home and infecting their children.
It is in this regard that communities have a part to play in fighting this scourge. There is an urgent need to break the silence and report domestic violence when we witness it occurring to our neighbours and family. This calls for us to abandon the notion that “it is none of my business” when it comes to domestic violence. Let us use the platforms available for reporting this pandemic.
If you know of, or are concerned about someone in an abusive relationship you can:
GBV Command Centre on 0800-428-428 or *120*786#.
National GBV Helpline: 0800 150 150
LifeLine South Africa: 0861 322 322
AIDS Helpline: 0800 012 322
National Counselling Line: 0861 322 322
Childline South Africa: 0800 055 555
South African Police Service: 10111
Legal Aid: 0800 110 110
Gender based Violence is your business, my business and our business. Let us stand together, support and help the victim