Organisations are encouraging women to use codes to access help when faced with gender-based violence during the lockdown. Beyond Zero, a Non-Profit Organisation, has encouraged women to have a special code they can use to alert their next of kin when in trouble.

A security company has also advised women to set off the alarm and deliberately use the wrong password as a call for help.

Gender-based violence has been in the spotlight in recent months as activists call on government to do more to protect innocent women and children.

A non-profit organisation Beyond Zero says too many women and girls are worried about how to endure or escape the violence and abuse in their own homes.

Spokesperson, Pam Qavile, says victims are in a more difficult situation now during the lockdown because perpetrators will use any excuse to inflict violence and abuse.

“Which is mostly triggered by frustrations people have of not having any alcohol and also because people are confined in their houses. There is no help in terms of domestic work. So, there is a lot of anger that is happening that is triggering gender-based violence among people.”

Qavile has encouraged young women to use a special code word with their loved ones in times of trouble.

“Because we know that it might be difficult to call authorities during that period, you use that particular word and share it with your friends, maybe on WhatsApp and they know if they receive that word or that WhatsApp message it’s a call for help and they can call authorities for you.”

A private security company, Beagle Watch, has advised their clients to use the panic buttons connected to their home alarm systems, to call for help.

“And we also have a situation where we would verify the customer by means of a wrong password and this is what we have brought recently to the attention of our customers, so if Beagle Watch or service provider had to call you and you were in a time of need you could ultimately just give a wrong password and our protocol on our end is to continue to dispatch a vehicle as there is something untoward at the premises,” says General Manager Andre Aiton.

The video below outlines gender-based violence statistics in South Africa:  

Advocacy Group, Women and Men Against Child Abuse’s, Ngaa Muromedzi says while the government has made provision for adults who may be victims of abuse during the lockdown, they seem to have forgotten to cater for children.

“One such case is in Alexandra. So, this was a case that came up in the cusp of the beginning of the lockdown. Because of the lockdown, our social workers can’t go around. We can’t go around and then we’ve got the matter of placements. Children need to be removed from the place of safety via a court order, which means that the matter needs to have been to the police and then it goes to the children’s court and a social worker takes it up.  Those services are very limited.”

Director of Rise Up Against Violence, Mandisa Khanyile, says the number of domestic violence cases is rising because victims are stuck at home with perpetrators during this lockdown : 

An announcement by police that they received 87 000 gender-based violence related calls in the first week of the national lockdown, shook the nation.

The numbers mean that more than 12 000 cases were reported each day while even more go unreported.

“The country has had a grave issue around this. The unintended consequences that come from the restriction of movement and services, have really looked at global trends that could lead to increased incidents of existing extenuating circumstances we have. We are looking at difficult times, we have to then watch and track and try and see and understand how we can then deal with those issues that arise as and when they come,” says Development Economist at the Stellenbosch Business School Dr Nthabiseng Moleko.

The Department of Social Development says it is still waiting for updated numbers of people accessing these facilities in different provinces.