Uber supports domestic violence survivors during lockdown

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As the global COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact local communities, lockdown regulations have created unintended challenges for society’s most vulnerable, who are left with limited options to seek help.

As many South Africans face increased risk of gender-based violence (GBV), ride-hailing firm Uber has partnered with Johannesburg-based non-profit organisation Nisaa Institute for Women’s Development to help support affected communities during this difficult time.

South Africa has recorded 5 350 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 2 073 recoveries and 103 deaths, to date.

With governments reporting a surge in domestic violence globally in the last few weeks, Uber says it has established partnerships with domestic violence organisations and local governments in 16 countries to provide 50 000 free rides to shelters and safe spaces, and supply more than 45 000 free meals.

Internationally, the company has expanded its long-standing partnerships with several organisations, including the Safe Centre LI in New York, Femmes Avec in Paris, WESNET in Australia, and the World Young Women's Christian Association in Canada.

The rate of GBV in SA is unprecedented. According to the South African Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, SA has one of the highest rates of violence against women on the entire continent, with a rate five times the global average.

One in four women will experience violence by men, and women are five times more likely to be killed, it says.

“We want to do our part to help survivors access life-saving services and find a safe place to shelter. That’s why we are partnering with domestic violence organisations and local governments,” according to an Uber statement.

“Uber is committed to women’s safety both on our app and in the communities that we serve. Over the past several years, we’ve partnered with leading gender-based violence organisations globally on awareness, education and prevention of sexual assault and domestic violence.”

A few weeks ago, Uber pledged to provide 10 million free rides and food deliveries to those who need them most during the lockdown period across the globe. However, with the steep rise in GBV incidents, the company says it decided to expand its initiative to reach those affected by domestic violence.

Last month, Vodacom partnered with the Department of Social Development to run a 24-hour national GBV command centre during the 21-day national lockdown.

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