Alarming increase in gender-based violence during COVID-19 lockdown
Last week Police Minister Bheki Cele said that more than 2 000 cases of domestic violence have been reported in the first week of the lockdown. Dr Nthabiseng Moleko, who lectures Managerial Economics and Statistics at USB, says reports globally show a link between pandemics, disasters and gender-based violence. Dr Moleko is also a Commissioner on the Commission for Gender Equality.
“During times of national disasters the vulnerable are even more so in a vulnerable situation. Measures must be put in place to support such individuals,” she says.
“The unintended consequence of lockdown, which is basically restricted movement, is that individuals are confined within their homes and for many that home is a place of abuse, whether psychological, emotional or physical abuse.
“There are shelters that people ordinarily would make use of but because they are afraid to leave their homes in fear of contracting the virus, they rather choose to stay in violent situations,” she adds.
Dr Moleko says there is a need for a clear public awareness campaign “to let people know law and order are still at play”. “The law has not been suspended. Any criminal act during this time and acts of criminality must be dealt with as such.”
She says it is important to work together as a united body because the state cannot resolve this alone. “You need the private sector, you need the communities to adhere to the measures that are put in place for their own safety. It is critical that people go to shelters where they are safe and must not stay in situations where their lives are at risk,” she says.
*A GBV Command Centre will operate 24 hours during lockdown and community members are using the line to report any abuse. The number is 0800 428 428.
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