On average, one in five South African women has experienced gender-based violence. This is a horrifying statistic, and Vodacom is committed to help change it. As part of this campaign, the Vodacom Foundation has supported the vital initiative of the National Gender-Based Violence Call Centre. The Call Centre provides a lifeline to victims of violence, and is now also accessible to people with disabilities.
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 via video calling; 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 workers via the centre's Skype and toll-free number, 0800 428 428. People can also send a 'please call me' to *120*7867# and members of the deaf community can Skype the contact ‘Helpme GBV’. People with a hearing impediment can SMS Help to 31531. The Centre is able to refer calls directly to SAPS (10111) and field social workers who can respond to victims of gender-based violence.
To date, the Centre has received more than 98 000 calls nationally. Through a total sponsorship of R12 million over 13 years, the Vodacom Foundation has been an integral part of service delivery to the survivors of abuse in our communities, who would normally have to travel long distances to access such services and often will be further traumatised by an unsympathetic social services system.
The Vodacom Foundation has purchased more than 3 000 Memeza house alarms for the Department of Social Development Safe Houses and White Door Shelters. Women and Men against Child Abuse (WMACA) provides free services to victims of child abuse and GBV.
The Greater Nelspruit Rape Intervention (GRIP) has successfully intervened to lives of more than 50 000 survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence.
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.