Saturday, October 31, 2020
Health And Welfare

Vodacom steps up to fight against GBV


Vodacom has launched a campaign called ‘Be the light’ to call everyone’s attention to the Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in South Africa which also caters for deaf people. According to the latest Gender-Based Violence research, one in four women will experience violence by men and are five times more likely to be killed. A woman is murdered every three hours in South Africa.

Takalani Netshitenzhe, Chief Officer: Corporate Affairs, at Vodacom said: “The truth of the matter is that, in recent times, we have seen more and more cases of women dying in the hands of men in the country, so it is about time we shifted the conversation on gender violence to men, so they can be part of the solution. In this context, Be the light campaign is focused on South African men, appealing to them to be change agents and play an active role in the elimination of gender violence from our society.”

“In my view, gender-based violence requires men to stand up, call out, and address the violent and aggressive behaviour that we see many women face every day. For this to happen, men need to be the champions in the fight against women abuse and femicide, while shining a light on those perpetrators who continue to abuse women and children without fear of consequence,” said Takalani.

President Cyril Ramaphosa recently appealed to SA’s corporate sector, civic bodies and churches in society to partner with the government as it steps up its fight against gender-based violence. Vodacom and the Department of Social Development Department worked together to launch the Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Command Centre in 2014.

The mobile telecommunications company contributed R4m into this partnership for the creation of a call centre that is managed by trained government-employed social workers. In December 2016, a Skype capability was launched at the call centre to give access to the victims of gender-based violence from the deaf community.

The call centre receives an alarming average of 22,000 calls per month. These calls result in tele-counselling at the centre and some calls, based on the severity of the case, are referred to the community-based social workers and the South African Police Service.

Additionally, Vodacom also supports its employees by implementing an HR policy specifically for victims of domestic violence and abuse. The support provided by this policy includes an allocation of 10 days fully-paid leave and makes available resources such as free access to the company’s Employee Assistance programme which provides counselling and life management tools.

In the two months after the lockdown was announced, the command centre received 33,715 calls, of these 1,427 were GBV-related, up from 133 GVB-related cases for the period 1-26 March 2020. Although we are aware of under-reporting on GBV cases, these recorded GBV-related numbers paint a bleak picture of a society that has a deep-seated problem of GBV.

To assist victims of GBV, Vodacom urges them to speak out and seek help
By dialling 0800 428 428 or via USSD on *120*7867#
A Skype line ‘HelpMeGBV’ for members of the deaf community

Vodacom is also developing a mobile-based app, which will serve as a risk assessment tool for the app users to determine if they are in an abusive relationship so that they could seek help. They plan to launch this app this year.

“We are hoping that this campaign will challenge local men to reflect on this question of gender violence and lead them to initiate serious conversations among their circles on what they can do to prevent abuse of this type from occurring in the first place,” concluded Netshitenzhe.

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