With any pandemic, the main concern lies in finding a treatment. And, while the search is furiously on for a Covid-19 vaccine, there is general consensus that a major part of the solution for the GBV pandemic has already been identified. It lies in one simple word: Respect.
This Women's Month, the focus regrettably but rightfully falls on gender-based violence (GBV) during lockdown. But, unlike Covid-19, the GBV pandemic already has an effective treatment. And our schools and institutions of higher learning have a vital role to play in administering it.
"A war being waged against the women and children of our country." That's how President Cyril Ramaphosa recently referred to the scourge of GBV that seemed to mirror the disconcerting spike in infection rates over the lockdown period. In the first three weeks of lockdown, more than 120,000 victims called the national helpline for abused women and children - double the usual volume of calls.
Ramaphosa's "war" reference is quite appropriate. Global Peace Index statistics show that the violence rate in South Africa is similar to that in countries at war or in conflict. When it comes to female victims, the figures almost defy comprehension.
Close to 3,000 women...