More than 120 000 cases of gender-based violence were recorded by the government-run Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Command Centre in the first three weeks of the national lockdown.
This was revealed by the Gauteng Social Development MEC, Morakane Mosupyoe, during a webinar on GBV and femicide hosted by the department on Saturday.
Mosupyoe said a similar call centre in Pretoria was receiving up to 1 000 calls a day from women and children who were confined to abusive homes seeking urgent help.
The MEC said according to research before the Coronavirus outbreak, the country already had five times higher than the global average for GBV, and the female interpersonal violence death rate was the fourth-highest out of the 183 countries listed by WHO in 2016.
“The national lockdown has prevented access to civil service groups dedicated to supporting victims of GBVF. Within our communities, there is also stigma associated with sexual violence. Together, these factors contribute to the under-reporting of GBVF cases. Women then die in silence, fearing secondary victimisation,” said Mosupyoe.
In an effort to address GBVF, the department hosted the webinar to engage with the community of Gauteng on issues of gender-based violence, as well as to consolidate new interventions.
The webinar called on government to relook at its interventions. Summarising inputs from participants, Social Welfare and Specialist Services Chief Director, Tebello Mkhonto, said there is a need for all government departments to reprioritise interventions on GBVF.
“They must also strengthen the perpetrator programme so that they realise that what they are doing is wrong,” Mkhonto said.