Cyber bullying, GBV reports spike during Women’s Month
Government’s official citizen engagement platform GovChat says it witnessed a spike in reports of cyber bullying and gender-based violence (GBV) in August.
This, as the country marked Women’s Month, an annual event to commemorate the significant role women play in society.
In a joint statement, GovChat and the South African Women in ICT Forum say a total of 532 cases were reported via their online interactive GBV engagement platform.
The top five incident types included 98 cases of domestic violence, 80 cases of emotional abuse, 78 cases of abandoned children, 40 of physical abuse, and 34 cases of verbal abuse and intimidation.
Most cases were reported in Gauteng, followed by KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, according to the statement.
“Gender-based violence not only negatively impacts the health and psyche of our communities, it also has a devastating impact on the economy,” says Sonwabise Mzinyathi, chairperson of the South African Women in ICT Forum.
“The economic cost to manage the scourge of gender-based violence in South Africa is between R28 billion and R42 billion a year. An end to this pandemic could channel this money to other developmental areas of our society.”
In March, GovChat and the forum introduced an online interactive GBV engagement platform, to allow citizens to report incidents of gender-based violence, rate a safe space, as well as access contact details when in need of help.
The platform is a zero-rated progressive web application and is linked to government's command centre and national support facilities for people and families affected by GBV.
It is described as using the power of data and analytics to help to curb the systematic problem of GBV, as well as providing access to support facilities in one hub. It also allows GovChat users to rate the service, so as to drive continuous improvement.
Eldrid Jordaan, CEO of GovChat, adds: “While technology is not the sole solution when addressing social ills such as gender-based violence, our technology certainly gives government important verification data – like time, location and repeated behaviour that allows them to pick up predictability.”
“Gender-based violence is a social issue that cuts across all people, all groups, and one that is prevalent in all levels of social and economic standing in human society. The cross-sector approach helped to create a technology platform to help navigate the scourge of gender-based violence in a meaningful and impactful way for better reporting,” Mzinyathi concludes.