Home South Africa News Gender-Based Violence victims urged to speak up during lockdown

Gender-Based Violence victims urged to speak up during lockdown

Gender-Based Violence victims

You can ask a person you trust to accompany you when reporting a sexually related offense to the police. The increasing number of cases against women and children during the nationwide lockdown is alarming. It is no secret that women and children who live with domestic violence perpetrators have no escape from their abusers during the lockdown.

But the question is: how do you report GBV crimes during the lockdown? Since the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, GBV against women has become a global problem.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres says in a video message that since restrictions were imposed by countries across the world to combat the coronavirus, women and girls were increasingly facing violence, “where they should be safest: in their own homes.”

Sonke Gender Justice says it is concerned about possible under-reporting of GBV incidents during lockdown: In his announcement of the lockdown, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the lockdown was necessary to curb the spread of COVID-19 pandemic. He emphasised that there was no excuse, nor will there ever be any excuse, for violence – against women and children.

Gender-Based Violence victims

Clinical Director from Teddy Bear Clinic’s Dr Shaheda Omar says victims often hold themselves responsible and blaming themselves for the victimisation. Omar says if abuse is not reported it could result in the death of a victim. The outcome may be devastating. Victims should report abuse to the police. In the absence of the police, it could be reported to a helpline (GBV Command Centre, Childline, Lifeline, Suicide Line, SADAG) which are toll-free lines. She says psychologically victims feel trapped, immobilised and do not see a way out.

“Everyone has a responsibility. It is a co-responsibility and requires systemic intervention on all levels. The public need to rekindle the spirit of Ubuntu and make the safety of women and children their business and look out or hear out for any untoward behaviour and reach out or even report to the authorities.”

GBV activist and survivor Dikarabo Kotsokoane says victims of GBV rely more on the general public. Based on my experience, it helps when you realise and know that you are not alone and people believe you. Kotsokoane has urged people to create relationships with their neighbours.

“As a society, we should always be in tune with what is happening around us. We must always be aware of the movements of our neighbours and those around us. Unfortunately, during this pandemic, GBV hardly happens outside in the field or at the river. GBV happens right under our noses with who we are social distancing with. Some victims of GBV will try to relay hints in that they are in trouble. Hence, I say try and be aware of those hints. Create a relationship with your neighbours so that you will be able to help each other.”

Omar says if victims do not open up the cycle of violence will continue. “So, by opening up at least they can be rescued, given a second chance in life and most importantly, break the cycle of violence.

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Source: IOL