Gender-based violence and COVID-19
Many countries have been under lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the purpose of the lockdown and social distancing practices is to flatten the curve of COVID-19 infection rates, many women and children have had to endure gender-based violence (domestic abuse and sexual abuse). Here’s how COVID-19 affects gender-based violence.
Victims are more vulnerable
The lockdown has forced a lot of people to stay home unless they are getting food, medication or any other essential services. As a result, people who live in households and even neighbourhoods where they are exposed to abuse and/or violence, are more vulnerable to experience this repeatedly during this time.
Victims don’t know where to get help
It has become even harder for victims to reach out for help because they may always be around or close to perpetrators. This makes it extremely difficult to seek help, because the risk of being caught and hurt by the abuser is increased.
Lots of shelters and organisations that help women and children who have been abused are also either too full to take on more people, or closed due to lockdown measures. This makes victims of gender-based violence less likely to look for help. However, I want you to know that there are still places where help is available if you are experiencing gender-based violence right now.
Here’s where you can get help
There are various reliable organisations that you can reach out to, to get assistance if you or someone you know is a victim of gender-based violence.
National Shelter Movement Of South Africa - You can contact this organisation for a list of shelters, or information on shelters and access their gender-based violence safety plan for assistance with getting out of an abusive situation.
POWA – People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA) is an organization that offers help and free counselling to women experiencing violence and abuse. You can contact them on 011 642 4345/6.
The Tears Foundation – Tears offers 24/7 support to victims of violence and abuse all over the country. All you have to do is dial *134*7355# for help.
While we are all working to curb the spread of COVID-19 right now, it’s important to be aware of the effects that the lockdown has had on victims of gender-based violence. If you or anyone you know is experiencing abuse, the National Gender-based Violence Command can be reached by calling 0800428428, or by dialing *120*7867# to get help for you or a loved one. You can also reach out to me if you need someone to talk to or for more information on how to get help.
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