South Africa is facing two deadly pandemics, the coronavirus and gender-based violence (GBV) during the current lockdown. GBV is a profound and widespread problem in the country, impacting almost every aspect of life. This unfortunate phenomena, which disproportionately affects women and girls, is systemic, and deeply entrenched in institutions, cultures and traditions in South Africa. During the country’s lockdown as a result of COVID-19, there has been a surge of reports about GBV, with girls and women murdered and abused at the hands of men.
While this has been a long-standing problem in our country, the situation does not seem to be improving. In fact, it seems things have taken a turn for the worse since the lockdown. This violence, perpetrated against women and girls, is in different forms including intimate partner violence, domestic violence, sexual violence, indirect structural violence and LGBTQI-based violence. And although accurate statistics are difficult to obtain for many reasons (including the fact that most incidents of GBV are not reported), it is quite evident that South Africa has particularly high rates of GBV, including violence against women and girls (VAWG) and violence against LGBTQI people.
In the recent COVID-19 lockdown update, President Cyril Ramaphosa declared GBV as a second pandemic in the country, after the coronavirus. This follows the reports of about 21 women and girls murdered over the past few weeks: Tshegofatso Pule, Naledi Phangindawo, Nompumelelo Tshaka, Nomfazi Gabada, Nwabisa Mgwandela, Altecia Kortjie and Lindelwa Peni, all young women who were killed by men. And the 89-year-old grandmother who was killed in an old age home in Queenstown, the 79-year-old grandmother who was killed in Brakpan and the elderly woman who was raped in KwaSwayimane in KwaZulu-Natal.
Although the government has taken heed of the seriousness of the scourge of GBV in the country, putting aside a huge budget to finance the resources needed to end it and establishing a court specially built to deal with cases of GBV, a lot more still needs to be done. South Africa requires collaborative efforts to end GBV which should involve the working together of government, business and society to fight the violence.
In a partnership that has existed for some two years now, online retailer Teljoy and Frida Hartley Shelter for destitute women and children in Yeoville (Johannesburg) have been working together during the lockdown to help victims of GBV in the area. In the past, Teljoy has been involved in donating food parcels and bedding necessities to help Frida Hartley Shelter house destitute women. And today, owing to the increase in violent acts, Teljoy will make even more such donations with the aim of expanding the capacity of the Shelter to help.
Talking about the rise of GBV in the country and in the area, Frida Hartley Manager Cheryl Hlabane said that there is a need for everyone that cares to end violence to take part in doing so: “It cannot be left to the government alone. Women are being killed every day. Everyone has to get involved. From business, civil organisations, the society, government and NGOs… we all need to channel our attention and resources towards ending violence against women and girls.”
Teljoy CSI committee, The Impact Crew has called on citizens and businesses called on business to get involved: “GBV is a pandemic and our women are facing the brunt of it. We ought to all pause for a moment in whatever we are doing and channel our resources and focus to fight it.”
“We do our part in ways possible for ourselves, but I want to encourage all of us to get involved. Together we can end