South Africa

Increasing GBV during lockdown

Johannesburg – Organisations that assist gender-based violence victims say there has been a marked increase in the number of calls since the Covid-19 lockdown began.

  The LifeLine NPO, which provides crisis support to victims of gender-based violence and those in distress, says it received 79 325 distress calls in April this year.

  LifeLine manager Nomsa Papale says some were nevertheless also from people suffering from anxiety and depression.

  “In 2019 LifeLine received 81 431 calls, and to put the spike of the lockdown into perspective we received 79 325 calls only in April this year. In April last year there were 4 254 calls. In some cases people seek information about Covid-19,” she says.

  Women and Men Against Child Abuse spokesperson Ngaa Murombedzi says there has been an increase in the number of gender-based violence cases. “We cannot send teams to take the victims to places of safety because our services are limited. But in some cases victims ask themselves if they would have a place to sleep and food to eat if they report their attackers.”

  Anti-gender-based violence organisation #NotInMyName spokesperson Themba Masango says they received about 370 calls from victims facing attack from their partners since the lockdown began.

  “Things are getting worse as people are highly stressed out because some of them are losing their jobs and there isn’t enough money in the household to keep them afloat. So things have gotten violent. We provide counselling to victims and try to take them to places of safety. But it’s difficult now because most of them are full or are closed,” Masango says.

  Liquor company Carling Black Label has created a WhatsApp line through which victims can send messages for help without calling and making their abusers aware. Brand director Arne Rust says it gives victims a way to get counselling silently.

  “It also puts men who are struggling in touch with someone to talk to, so that they can start on the journey to be champion men. People can send the word BRAVE to 0800-150-150 and get in touch to get the help they need,” Rust says. 

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