In South Africa, gender-based violence – any kind of physical, sexual, emotional and psychological violence against women and children – is an issue of serious concern. Up to 40% of South African women have experienced sexual or physical violence in their lifetime.
During International Women’s Week, we celebrate the varied and wonderful achievements of women, but we must also pause to consider how gender-based violence is affecting our communities. As part of its commitment to empowering and supporting women, Vodacom has partnered with government organisations to stop gender-based violence.
National Gender-Based Violence Call Centre
Vodacom Foundation, in partnership with the Department of Social Development (DSD), has enhanced its Gender-Based Violence Command Centre offerings in order to accommodate people living with disabilities, in particular people with hearing impairment.
Some of the functionalities that have been added to the Command Centre are a Skype capability, USSD system enhancements, an SMS conversation manager and Geocoding system.
The Skype capability will enable people to make use of sign language when contacting the centre; the USSD system will enable people to use the system to relay information; the SMS conversations manager will enable literate people to communicate with social workers via SMS, and Geocoding system to track and monitor caller location that will help with linking victims of gender-based violence to their nearest shelters.
With the introduction of these elements to the Gender-Based Violence Command Centre, callers from anywhere in the country will now be able to receive counselling and assistance from trained social worker via the centre's Skype and toll-free number, 0800 428 428. People can also send a 'please call me' to *120*7867#.
Qualified social workers who can communicate in sign language have been trained on trauma management and customer service. This is in addition to the 48 social workers, who were previously unemployed, and are now currently employed in the command centre.
The department is also working with the South African Police Service, the Departments of Justice and Health, and NGOs on the ground to ensure that victims receive medical, psychological and legal assistance.
The centre also complements the government's safe and white-door shelter centres for Victims of Crime and Violence, which provide counselling, medical treatment, legal and police services under one roof in order to minimise secondary victimisation.
If you have suffered from gender-based violence and need help, contact the National Gender-Based Violence Call Centre. Call them on 0800 428 428, or dial *120*7867# and follow the prompts.