Since the extension of the state of containment, there has been an increase in women trapped in violent households and in urgent need of help to get away, says the Western Cape women’s shelter movement.
Organizations that work with violence against women agree that there is little doubt that the forced isolation extended to five weeks will lead to violence for many people in a country with some of the worst incidents of gender-based violence (GBV) in the world.
“The number of calls to assisting centers testifies to this. The situation here is more desperate when one looks at the figures of the increase in sexual violence in many other countries that are also in a state of restriction, ”the National Shelter Movement of South Africa (NSM) said in a statement.
Adv. Bernadine Bachar, chairwoman of the women’s shelter movement and director of the Saartjie Baartman Center for Women and Children (SBC), the largest shelter in the province, says they are very concerned about the women who live in homes with violent abusers and don’t know how to get help.
“So a woman will call us to say she is being abused in the home and urgently needs help. She cannot go to a police station because she does not have transport. She may also not be willing to call the police to her home because she is afraid of even more violence. ”
According to Bachar, they help these victims to draw up a security plan to ensure that they can obtain police assistance or have access to a safe shelter.
“We make sure that victims have access to counseling through telephone messages while still being constrained in the violent household.”
Bachar emphasized that shelters in the Western Cape are not full, and that there is room for women and their children who contact the call center or women’s shelters.
Sanja Bornman, a lawyer for human rights lawyers (LHR), says the gender impact of Covid-19 and the restriction period itself cannot be ignored. “We know that as the unsustainable levels of domestic violence continue to increase at this time, those most at risk need practical information on what to do to stay safe. That is exactly what the security plan offers, ”Bornman said.
The Western Cape Department of Social Development said there were 41 domestic violence complaints referred to it when the state of restriction came into effect.
According to the department, the 41 cases were referred to him by the call center for gender-based violence between March 27 and April 14.
At the same time, 23 new cases, which did not come through the call center, also referred to its shelters for abused women and children, funded by the department.
Sharna Fernandez, provincial social development MEC, says she is deeply concerned about the thousands of women in the province who may find themselves in violent relationships.
“I am well aware that the isolation at the time of confinement poses additional risks to some people in their homes.”