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Vodacom boosts fight against gender-based violence

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Vodacom hosted an online discussion on efforts to fight domestic violence.
Vodacom hosted an online discussion on efforts to fight domestic violence.

To further support survivors of gender-based violence (GBV), mobile operator Vodacom unveiled a R5 million GBV fund during its webinar discussion on the fight against domestic violence this week.

This comes amid the increasing scourge of GBV-related offences and femicide in the country, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic and nation-wide lockdown.

Furthermore, the Vodacom GBV command centre has noted a spike in gender violence-related calls during this time.

According to the 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.

Takalani Netshitenzhe, chief officer and external affairs director at Vodacom, said the company’s GBV programmes focus on prevention, response and victim support.

Through the command centre, which Vodacom launched in partnership with the Department of Social Development, victim support is through digital literacy, she stated.

Netshitenzhe added that Vodacom’s new mobile-based app, which will come out later this year, is in line with the company’s GBV prevention and response strategy.

“The app will serve as a risk assessment tool for the app users to determine if they are in an abusive relationship, so that they can seek help. Through this mobile-based app, the user will be able to compile and keep a journal of abusive incidents that could serve as evidence during criminal investigation and prosecution. The app is intended to augment our prevention and response focus.”

Vodacom appeals to anyone who may need support during this time to contact the GBV command centre by calling 0800 428 428. The centre also has a Skype helpline ‘HelpMeGBV’ for members of the deaf community, an SMS-based help line ‘31531’ to assist people with disabilities and a USSD on *120*7867#.

The City of Johannesburg (COJ) has also called on victims and residents to make use of its 24-hour GBV crisis line.

According to the COJ, the iThemba Crisis Line has been set up to blow the whistle on the abuse of women and children, and to afford victims with psychosocial support and access to justice.

Eunice Mgcina, the city’s MMC for health and social development, says the hotline aims to bring hope and assistance to women and children who may be in distress.

“Until such a time where gender-based violence and femicide are completely eradicated, there can be no rest. Our work is not done," she says.

The iThemba Crisis Line is available on toll-free number 0800 223 217, and provides services such as emotional support, crisis intervention, tele-counselling, 24-hour access to professional help and a network of support services.

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