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?
Violence against women and girls surged alarmingly as COVID-19 spread and governments introduced lockdown measures to contain it.
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?
Identify and recognise CSOs and NGOs as first responders and essential service providers, with financial and non-financial assistance from government
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?
Thuthuzela Care Centers (TCCs) and domestic violence shelters and NGO’s are available to survivors.
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?
Government needs to work closer with NGO’s especially in rural areas, who are more than often the only place women can seek help from.
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. Read more about the Bills here
The tightening of bail conditions and parole, keeping victims safe from further victimisation during court proceedings. There should be a victim centred 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?
Government launched a Gender Based Violence Command Centre. You can find more details here: http://gbv.org.za
CALL NOW 0800 428 428 Emergency Line
(PLEASE CALL ME) *120* 7867# supported by a USSD
Skype address – HelpmeGbv for members of deaf community
SMS ‘help’ to 31531 for persons with disability
THUTHUZELA CARE CENTRES (TCCs) SITE STAFF AND CONTACT DETAILS:
How can we tackle GBV in online spaces?
Online activism promoting positive, healthy, non-violent, and equitable ways of being men during times of COVID-19 lockdowns.
Online campaigns should aim to promote positive masculinities among men and boys finding themselves in lockdowns, isolation, and social-distancing measures.
9. What is the role of local authorities like judiciary and police in tackling GBV during COVID-19 and beyond?
The tightening of bail conditions and parole, keeping victims safe from further victimisation during court proceedings is urgently needed.
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
10. What actions did your organisation take to stop violence against women during the pandemic and beyond?
We launched a dedicated Whatsapp line to help women in crisis. Open 24/7 for any women in an unsafe situation, or just need someone to talk to during this stressful time, reach out to our team: +27714297493 https://susters4life.co.za/susters-4-life-launches-a-womens-whatsapp-line