Tackling gender-based violence
Help is at hand for survivors of abuse
Help is just a phone call or text away for victims of abuse, thanks to the Department of Social Development's Gender-Based Violence Command Centre (GBVCC).
As the country observes the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children campaign from 25 November to 10 December, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini has encouraged survivors of abuse to make use of the GBVCC.
The 24-hour call centre assists survivors of genderbased violence (GBV) with support and guidance from trained social workers.
It was established to deal with violence against women and children and offers a comprehensive, integrated system that provides immediate, consistent, coordinated and timely support to survivors of GBV.
Its services are linked to the South African Police Service, the Emergency Management Services and the Department of Health.
The GBVCC uses mobile technology to estimate the location of a caller, assign the closest social worker in the field to the case, and record and receive continuous feedback on the case.
Minister Dlamini said the centre is aimed at making the department as responsive as possible.
“Additional functionality available to the department on a real-time basis includes strategic reporting which will highlight trends in specific locations or types of violence occurring, as well as an indication of demand for social workers in a specific district,” said Minister Dlamini.
The centre has contributed to government's interventions on GBV as a rapid response mechanism to deal
The GBVCC toll-free number is 0800 428 428. Alternatively, the public can send a Please Call Me to *120*7867#, SMS “Help” to 31531 or
speedily and effectively with issues wherever they arise.
It provides a single point of entry for survivors of attacks to request emergency help, seek advice and receive counselling, and access other social services programmes.
Exposing perpetrators of violence
Meanwhile, Minister in the Presidency responsible for Women, Susan Shabangu, has emphasised the need for communities to work with the law enforcement agencies to ensure that perpetrators of violence are brought to book.
She was representing President Jacob Zuma at the launch of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children campaign in the Eastern Cape recently.
Minister Shabangu said through the campaign, government is raising awareness about violence directed at women and children and that it must be stopped.
“Women and children are raped by people who say they love them and yet they end up violating them. We are happy with the launch of the campaign because we are going to root out this evil in society,” Minister Shabangu said.
The Minister said recently the country had witnessed some of the worst and most shocking incidents of violence against women and children.
Brutal and barbaric acts
“The most brutal and barbaric acts were reported such as incidents where women were killed and their bodies were burned and also cases of cannibalism in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal where body parts of women and children were eaten.We never thought we could hear of anything like that in our lifetimes,” she said.
Almost every day the media reports on abuse at home, work and in public spaces, added the Minister.
“Schools, which used to be safe havens for our learners, have now become high-risk areas for our girl children because of some unscrupulous teachers and caretakers, who abuse them sexually. Many boys have also become victims of sexual abuse.
“The crime of human trafficking needs to be highlighted more in the country as it is a silent crime, where victims disappear without trace,” she said.
Women and children are subjected to other nonviolent but equally harmful forms of violation, such as abusive language and deprivation of necessary material support in their homes, the Minister noted.
From April 2016 to December 2016, 37 000 cases of sexual offences were reported. Out of these cases, 80 percent were rape cases.
Minister Shabangu said GBV is estimated to cost South Africa up to R42 billion per annum as revealed by South African Police Service statistics.
Local communities welcomed the launch of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children campaign, saying this will ensure that perpetrators of violence are brought to book.
Nomkhosi Qindi, a resident of Missionvale, said that men who abuse women and children must be exposed and sent to jail for a long time.
Another resident Frans du Plessis said government must ensure long periods of imprisonment for abusers as they deprive their victims of their freedom to live peacefully.
“Men who abuse women and children must be removed from our society,” he said.