The Minister of Police, Mr. Bheki Cele announced earlier this week that gender based violence in South Africa has almost tripled during the lockdown period. The sad reality is that this number has grown exponentially in the last two weeks. These statistics may come as no surprise to many. Before South Africa reported its first confirmed COVID-19 patient, the media headlines were mostly dominated by cases of women and child abuse. It would be ignorant for us to think that these cases of abuse would mysteriously disappear during the lockdown period. In many cases, the abusers are usually a close relative to the victim and often reside with their victims in the same household. The lockdown period has made it much easier for the perpetrators to abuse their victims as their victims seemingly have no immediate access to help or persons whom they can confide in.
Many women being abused have some sort of relief when they go to work, church or family gatherings not only because they can confide in people at these public gatherings, but also because people in close contact with the victim may notice obvious signs of abuse and report it to the necessary authorities themselves. Children, likewise, usually have close friends or a teacher that they may confide in or who may raise the alarm on their behalf, if abuse is suspected.
Many victims of abuse may think that there is no help available to them during this lockdown period, however, this is not the case. The South African Police Services, as well as the court officials are classified as essential services and are readily available to assist you. The Courts consider cases of abuse as urgent matters and will immediately assist you should you approach it.
If you are being abused or know of someone being abused, here is a list of emergency numbers, operational 24/7, 7 days a week:
- Gender Based Violence Command Centre can be contacted at 0800 428 428/ *120*7867# from any cell phone.
- Persons with disabilities can SMS “HELP” to 31531
- Women Abuse Helpline: 0800 150 150.
- Tears Foundation helpline: *134*7355#
Report abuse immediately. Just like the COVID-19 virus, lets work together to “flatten this curve”.
For more information and/or assistance to report abusers, please contact BBP Law Inc.