On Friday, 27 November, Susters 4 Life Co-Founder, Reneé Thompson participated in a live twitter chat organised by Safe Speak to discuss ways each civil society can participate in ending GBV. For those who missed the robust online discussion; please find some of the points raised below:
1. Drivers of GBV are gendered power inequality rooted in patriarchy is the primary driver of GBV:
- GBV is more prevalent in societies where there is a culture of violence, and where male superiority is treated as the norm.
- Male superiority can manifest in men feeling them feel entitled to sex with women.
- Strict reinforcement of gender roles and hierarchy (and punishment of transgressions),
- These factors interact with a number of drivers, such as social norms (which may be cultural or religious), low levels of women’s empowerment, lack of social support, socio-economic inequality, and substance abuse.
- Violence against women have almost become acceptable and this makes it particularly challenging to address GBV effectively in South Africa.
- Patriarchal social norms and complex and intersectional power inequalities, including those of gender, race, class and sexuality.
2. How has COVID-19 impacted efforts to end violence against women and girls?
Economic pressure was and are still is felt in many households resulting from COVID-19 lockdown regulations. Involuntary unemployment, and reduced salaries was a BIG contributor, as financial stress led to the increase of domestic violence.
Continued economic insecurity and the restrictions and curfews under the various levels of lockdown increased violence against women and girls, with many being forced to stay with the perpetrators.
3. Ways you can help end violence against women during the pandemic and beyond?
Recognise the role of women’s economic empowerment in economic recovery and prevention of violence against women and girls.
Government should include CSOs and NGOs in national COVID-19 response plans, and support women’s movements.
4. What support services or networks are available to survivors during COVID-19?
TCCs are one-stop sexual assault centers to aid in conviction of sexual offences but also to expand physical, psychological and social care for survivors of rape, sexual assault and domestic violence. More resources are needed.
5. What is the role of government, laws and police in tackling GBV during COVID-19 and beyond?
South Africa does not have a lack of legislation, President Ramaphosa has introduced 3 GBV Bills recently, our problem is however the implementation of existing laws.
The tightening of bail conditions and parole, keeping victims safe from further victimisation during court proceedings. There should be a victim centered approach to GBV in our criminal justice system, currently the law is male.
6. How can women’s rights organizations enhance GBV support services during COVID-19?
We need to join resources and collaborate on programmes and advocacy and also putting more pressure of government to make sure they deliver on all the commitments being made by the President and his Cabinet.
7. What support services or networks are available to survivors during COVID-19? Share safe houses and GBV hotlines in your country?
- Emergency Line number: 0800 428 428
- PLEASE CALL ME – dial *120* 7867# (supported by a USSD)
- Skype address – HelpmeGbv for members of deaf community
- SMS ‘help’ to 31531 for persons with disability
- Thuthuzela Care Centers (TCCs) Site staff
How can we tackle GBV in online spaces?
Online campaigns should aim to promote positive masculinities among men and boys finding themselves in lockdowns, isolation, and social-distancing measures.
8. What is the role of local authorities like judiciary and police in tackling GBV during COVID-19 and beyond?
Government’s social security cluster needs to work closes with NGO’s especially in rural areas, who are more than often the only place women can seek help from
9. What actions did your organisation take to stop violence against women during the pandemic and beyond?