Sonke Gender Justice has launched a new campaign to encourage people to speak out against gender-based violence in their communities, following a surge in domestic violence during the Covid-19 lockdown.
The #SPEAKOUT campaign calls on South Africans to pledge their commitment to look out for gender-based violence in their neighbourhoods and on social media, and to report any incidents to a hotline, said the organisation’s Communications and Strategic Information Unit manager, Given Sigauqwe.
“Sonke is calling on every womxn and man next door – to #SPEAKOUT on social media and pledge. Domestic violence can be reported to the toll-free gender-based violence call centre on 0800 428 428 or *120*7867# ,” said Sigauqwe.
The campaign comes after a surge in domestic violence cases during the national lockdown in which people are restricted to their homes for most of the time, according to Sigauqwe.
“For most, staying home under the nation’s restrictions in light of the coronavirus pandemic means staying safe. For others it’s proved anything but. It was revealed that over 2 230 gender-based violence cases were reported during the first week of the national lockdown,” Sigauqwe said.
“Sonke Gender Justice also believes that the number of unreported cases pushes that number up significantly. The escalation of domestic violence around the world amidst lockdown restrictions is in itself another pandemic. Womxn, children and other vulnerable groups find themselves trapped between two pandemics. Sonke is calling for collective community support, for those staying home to keep safe, and to also keep watch on their neighbours’ safety.”
In addition, the national lockdown has limited access to support channels, such as visiting family and community check-ins.
“If you can get in touch with someone who is being abused in any way – over the fence or by phone – please check if they feel that your intervention as a neighbour will help or will make the situation worse. The needs and safety of those who are being abused are always paramount,” Sigauqwe said.