South Africa: Unite to End Gender-Based Violence

Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu has called on the private sector and non-governmental organisations to work with government in ridding the country of the scourge of gender-based violence and femicide.

The Minister made the call during her visit to the Gender-Based Violence Command Centre (GBVCC) in Tshwane on Friday.

"My task is to make sure that we have less and less people calling the centre. I'm pleading with men to be an example to each other," the Minister said.

The work of the centre is central to the implementation of the President's Emergency Action Plan (Five-Point Plan) on GBV in terms of the provision of psychosocial care and support services to victims and survivors of GBV.

The centre has increased access to victims of violence and crime since the inception of the 24hr/7days telephonic counselling services.

The centre is managed by qualified social workers who provide victims and survivors with immediate counselling and information on available services.

"A key feature of the GBVCC is its geolocation technology, which enables social workers to identify the caller's exact physical location and directly links them to the nearest service points such as police stations, healthcare facilities or shelters," the Department of Social Department said.

As at the end of March this year, the GBVCC had received 68 434 calls, 7 759 Call Me Back Messages (USSD) and 382 SMS. This is a significant increase in the volume of calls received by the centre as compared to 376 received in its first year of operation.

"To improve the operations of the GBVCC, future plans include shortening the toll-free number to make it simpler and easier to remember and make contact as well as to reduce the caller's effort in accessing the centre," the department said.

Established in 2013 as part of the Programme of Action to Combat Violence against Women and Children (2013-2017), the centre provides a 24-hour, seven days a week toll free psychosocial care and support service, including referrals and a direct link to appropriate services for victims and survivors of GBV in South Africa.

Callers to the centre can be assisted in any of the 11 official languages. In addition to the Toll-Free Line (0800 428 428), the GBVCC has an SMS helpline (SMS Help: 31531) for text messages and Call Me Back function on *120*7867#.

Representative of the Gender Based Violence and Femicide Interim Steering Committee, Prof Olive Shisana, emphasised the importance of addressing the structural drivers of gender-based violence.

"Most of the work that we have been doing in South Africa has not focused on prevention. Prevention is key, we need to stop it before it happens.

"We need to provide victims' centres survivor focused accessible quality service, we don't generally assess the quality of services we are providing," Shisana said.

Zulu was joined by Minister Responsible for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities in the Presidency, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, during her visit.

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