In France, the hospitality industry has partnered with retail to make hotels available to abused women. In SA, the private sector has partnered with the public sector to reduce the scourge of gender-based violence in our society.
When President Ramaphosa announced the national lockdown, some citizens geared up for spending more quality time with loved ones, while others geared up for the worst – little to no opportunity to escape domestic abuse. As expected, lockdowns are causing an increase in domestic violence, and this isn’t just a local occurrence: globally, the vulnerable face the same fate. In China’s Hubei province, domestic violence reports to police have more than trebled. Tunisia has reported a five-fold increase in domestic violence, while Northern Ireland has reported a 20% increase and France an increase of 32%.
SA’s crime rates have made women even more vulnerable. Locally, it’s estimated that one in two women experience violence perpetrated by an intimate partner, while three women are intentionally killed by their intimate partners each day.
It’s business unusual for most businesses, where their CSI initiatives have been a crucial branding exercise to keep them relevant and appealing during and after the pandemic. Insurance provider 1st for Women has increased its efforts in the fight against women abuse during lockdown by providing support to the National Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Command Centre.
Robyn Farrell, the CEO of 1st for Women Insurance, has indicated that the Command Centre’s been receiving triple the usual number of calls from women trapped at home with abusive partners since the lockdown began on 26 March. “The massive surge in requests for help is going to have a knock-on effect on the social workers manning the Command Centre, so it’s imperative that we equip and enable them as best we can to continue the essential work they’re doing at this time. The safety of women during lockdown is a considerable concern for us. Our business has been a long-term advocate in the fight against women abuse and we believe we can make a significant contribution by supporting the GBV Command Centre in its efforts to help those who need it. The social workers are having to deal with not only the sheer volume of calls, but also horrific stories and requests for help. They’re on the frontline, assisting women who’re reporting abuse and they need support to do that,” says Farrell.
The insurance provider has decided to donate headsets, hand sanitisers, masks, gloves and trauma debriefing services to all social workers and supervisors at the GBV Command Centre to reduce secondary traumatic stress and burnout.
“The Department of Social Development and the GBVC Command Centre management express their sincere gratitude to 1st for Women for their great contribution towards the joint fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s gone a long way towards ensuring that the Command Centre’s working environment is healthy and safe for employees,” says Nomathemba Malvern, Deputy Director: VEP & GBV and GBV Command Centre Manager.
For women in danger and desperately seeking help, the GBV Command Centre contact numbers are: 0800 428 428 or *120*786#.