Vodacom's annual GBV March petitions men to stand up, call out, and address the violent and aggressive behaviour many women face every day
Men need to be the champions in the fight against women abuse and femicide
JOHANNESBURG – Vodacom, today hosted the third edition of its Vodacom Walk in the fight against Gender based violence event, in support of the 16 Days of Activism of No Violence against women and children. Led by men, members of Vodacom EXCO, government representatives, interest groups, the march, which is in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation and Global Citizen, continues the fight against the abuse of women and children in South Africa, particularly at a time when South Africa is gripped by a spate of senseless violence against women and children.
Gender-based violence in South Africa is unprecedented. According to the latest GBV research, one in four women will experience violence by men and are five times more likely to be killed. A woman is murdered every three hours in South Africa. The issue is a social ill of our time that has started reversing the strides made in gender equality since the dawning of our democracy 25 years ago.
Takalani Netshitenzhe, Chief Officer: Corporate Affairs, at Vodacom said: “For us at Vodacom we view violence against women as a violation of human rights and the greatest impediment towards gender equality. Addressing gender-based violence requires urgent collaboration from all South Africans and Africans. Whether young or old, men and women, whatever race, rank, age, gender or social class, and more especially in the digital age, gender-based violence knows no borders. It is one of the greatest social ills of our time.”
“This year’s campaign is focused on South African men, appealing to them to be the light, change agents and play an active role in ridding our society of gender violence. Gender-based violence requires men to stand up, call out, and address the violent and aggressive behaviour that we see many women face every day. For this to happen, men need to be the champions in the fight against women abuse and femicide, while shining a light on those perpetrators who continue to abuse women and children without fear or consequence.”
As a long-standing partner of government and civil society organizations that champion the rights of women and children, a few years back Vodacom launched a gender-based violence ecosystem. The ecosystem is anchored on the triple Cs, which is what Vodacom is doing for its customers, colleagues and communities.
Vodacom is currently working with Vodafone to introduce a mobile-based App which will serve as a risk assessment tool for the App users to determine if they are in an abusive relationship so that they could 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. Vodacom plans to launch this App in the 2020 calendar year.
For a response mechanism, on 26 March 2014, Vodacom and the Department of Social Development Department worked together to launch the Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Command Centre. Vodacom contributed R4million into this partnership for the creation of a call centre that is managed by trained government-employed social workers. In December 2016, a Skype capability was launched at the call centre to give access to the victims of gender-based violence from the deaf community. The call centre receives an alarming average of 22000 calls per month. These calls result in tele-counseling at the centre and some calls, based on the severity of the case, are referred to the community-based social workers and the South African Police Service. However, the handover process needs improvement to see more successful prosecutions.
The Centre can be reached as follows:
- By dialing 0800 428 428 or via USSD on *120*7867#.
- A Skype line ‘HelpMeGBV’ for members of the Deaf Community.
- An SMS-based line ‘31531’ for people with disabilities. (SMS Help to 31531).
In March 2019, Vodacom stepped up its efforts to support its employees by implementing an HR policy specifically for victims of domestic violence and abuse. The support provided by this policy includes an allocation of 10 days fully-paid leave and makes available resources such as free access to the company’s Employee Assistance programme which provides counselling and life management tools – as well as the 24-hour victim support and counselling call centre, the Gender-Based Violence
For victim empowerment, Vodacom has partnered with government to provide digital literacy to victims of GBV. Since the inception of the victims’ empowerment program, the telco has spent R2.5 million to deploy computers and to train more than 1 300 survivors of violence.
“The time of issuing strongly worded statements each time there’s an upsurge of gender-based violence hit our country is over. Corporates need to match their words with bold actions. The time is now for Corporate South Africa to roll up its sleeves and use its core capabilities to design and propose innovative solutions to help the government and civil society to effectively fight gender-based violence,” concluded Netshitenzhe.
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