COVID-19 has been declared a global pandemic. As we continue to navigate this rapidly evolving situation with many other countries under lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19, violence against women remains a worldwide pandemic.
The strict 21 Day Lockdown in South Africa, which started on the 26th March 2020, has increased the already high numbers of Gender Based Violence after only a week.
Being confined at home for 21 days with their abuser during lockdown increases victim vulnerability, as there is no escape. Exacerbating this vulnerability, multiple studies have found that emotionally stressful events can lead to an increase in aggressive behavior at home. Researchers identified such spikes during economic crisis, when major natural disasters hit, and even during large football tournaments.
South African women are stuck between two pandemics – COVID-19 and Gender Based Violence!
After only eight days into the national lockdown, Police Minister Bheki Cele announced that over 87 000 gender-based violence cases have been reported to police. Cele could not confirm how many arrests have been made in relation to the thousands of calls received.
“If not mistaken, the last number we’ve received as the NATJOINTS [ National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure] is that since the national lockdown started, 87 000 people have phoned in reporting that there might be gender-based violence in their houses.” he said.
He also said one of the 87 000 cases includes a case of rape, where a police officer was arrested for allegedly raping his wife. “The police that raped the wife has been arrested. Not as a police (officer), but as a criminal,” said Cele.
If you cannot speak to anyone, speak to our charities and get help!
The safety of women during lockdown is a considerable concern and if you need help, please call one of the charity helplines, we are working with.
These great social workers, counselors and volunteers are on the front line when trying to assist women who are reporting abuse and need the necessary help and support.
TEARS Foundation Johannesburg:
If you need assistance dial *134*7355#
and select emergency assistance. 24/7 and it is for free!
Rape Crisis Cape Town:
CALL 021 447 9762
During lockdown Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust 24-hour counselling helplines will be available.
Thuthuzela Care Centres by Rape Crisis are open
All forensic units and Thuthuzela Care Centres (TCC) will be open during the lockdown period as a source of emergency medical care, which is essential in the first 72 hours after a rape. This is also a good route for reporting rape because the police will take a statement and open a police docket for the rape survivor at the forensic unit or TCC. Using public transport to access emergency medical care is permitted during the lockdown period.
Only urgent cases are being seen at courts and all ongoing cases are being held over until the end of the lockdown period. Protection orders and domestic violence orders are being issued at all magistrate’s courts for anyone needing protection from an assailant in the same home or nearby vicinity.
Below are the TCC’s in the Western Cape:
Heideveld Day Hospital: 021 699 3246
Karl Bremer Hospital: 021 918 1321
Khayelitsha District Hospital: 021 360 4570
Victoria Hospital Forensic Unit: 021 799 1111/1235
George Hospital: 044 873 4858
Wesfleur Hospital, Atlantis: 021 010 0421
Worcester Hospital: 023 348 1294