GBV hotspots may be overlooked due to lack of resources and reporting by victims — experts

Stepping up President Cyril Ramaphosa said based on the latest data, they have identified 30 hotspots around the country where gender-based violence and femicide are most rife. Image: Sandile Ndlovu

There are concerns that some areas in the country might be overlooked as hotspots for gender-based violence due to the lack of resources and reporting by victims.

President Cyril Ramaphosa during his address on Wednesday announced a new plan that identifies 30 hotspots for gender-based violence that will get special attention.

“We are determined to continue with our resolve to deal with the scourge of gender-based violence and femicide. Based on the latest data, we have identified 30 hotspots about the country where this problem is most rife. As we move to the next alert level, we are increasing and improving support services for survivors of gender-based violence, particularly in the identified hotspots,” Ramaphosa said.

Women & Men Against Child Abuse spokesperson Luke Lamprecht said the danger of focusing on hotspots was communities failing to report abuses, resulting in their areas not being identified as hotspots.

“These hotspots are identified based on the fact that there are people that children can report to. It’s a good starting point but it is not sufficient. One of the dangers about targeting interventions in places where there is higher risk is that if you have a particular community who has been very silent with reporting, we will still not know who they are,” he said.

Lamprecht said the crime statistics showed that gender-based violence in Gauteng remained very high but that there were resources and places to report in the areas.

“The problem with our stats now is that it was almost impossible for children to access the child protective system on their own during lockdown, so we actually don’t know what the number is under Covid. We are hoping that as children go back to schools, churches, mosques, and so on, they will now be asking for the help that they need, because while they were in lockdown our experience was that they had no access to the system at all.

“For them to get access to social workers just didn’t happen. So we are not certain whether the increase in statistics will spike as schools reopen. We might also see a climb in statistics of the abuse that happened while in lockdown by their families as they couldn’t report to anyone,” Lamprecht said.

Spokesperson for the department of women, youth and persons with disabilities Shalen Gajadhar said the statistics informing the list of hotspots do not only come from the SAPS, but from information and research provided by departments of social development and justice among other departments.

“The list, which will be issued by the police, is not based on crime statistics alone. The National Strategic Plan on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide is SA’s road map to realising a society free from violence against women and children.”

Gajadhar said interventions for each of the hotspots would vary based on the specific needs analysis done for the area.

Mbuyiselo Botha, commissioner at the commission for gender equality, said NGOs dealing with femicide and gender-based violence needed to be provided with resources to help fight the scourge.

“The vision is good and must be promoted but all of this is. They are contingent on making sure that the resources reach women, especially those in rural areas who are still at a coalface of inequality, femicide and sexism,” he said.

“Most of them don’t have access to police stations that have care services. All we need to do is to make sure that all those NGOs that are doing amazing work under difficult circumstances are capacitated and resourced.”

Police ministry spokesperson Lirandzu Themba said Minister Bheki Cele will give detailed plans and name all the hotspots during a planned press briefing in the coming days.

Meanwhile, Cele said in response to a parliamentary question that only 130 of the 4,058 people charged with gender-based violence since the announcement of lockdown in March had been convicted.

By Shonisani Tshikalange – TimesLIVE


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