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GBV: ‘Now is the time to speak up’

Gender-based violence (GBV) in South Africa has been a hot topic for the past few months with many women being murdered, raped and /or sexually assaulted. South African citizens have decided to rally together in order to put an end to this onslaught against women and to better protect the natural caregivers of our society.

This week Standard contacted various police stations in the district to find out how violence on women has been reported locally and which measures are in place to support women that fall victim to any form of assault.

“There has been quite a number of sexual assaults reported in Worcester since January to June of this year. All of these cases are still active and in most cases the perpetrators have not been known to the victims,” said spokesperson for the Worcester police station, Capt Tobela Dyasi.

The Worcester police has in total had 13 rape cases and 14 sexual assault charges reported during the past six months.

Earlier this year, Standard reported on the alleged rape of a 13-year-old minor on two separate occasions by the educator of the child. The case remains active and the educator is still in custody.

“We urge any victim of gender-based violence to report the matter to the police and we have a dedicated FCS unit (Family violence, child protection and sexual offences) to handle these cases with the necessary expertise and sensitivity they require,” says Dyasi.

The police officials are trained to take a statement from the victims and to make sure that the victim is taken to hospital if medical attention is required.

In Ashton cases of rape and assault have dropped by 50% over the past three months.

“In contrast to what is happening around the country relating to GBV, cases in the Ashton area have seen a drastic decrease, a decrease of around 50% in cases being reported,” said WO Sylvester Joseph.

Dr Melinda Weber, a psychologist from Cape Town, recently said in one of her many blogs surrounding this topic, that women now fear leaving their homes to look for help or to report cases of rape and abuse.

“The hard lockdown was especially tough, seeing that families were forced to spend most of their time in their homes, together. Usually the women, who fall victim to these crimes, go to work or their partner leaves to go to work or even to visit other people. In that time women can talk to friends or leave and get help, but the lockdown has been extremely hard for them to do so,” she explains.

President Ramaphosa recently addressed the nation about the Covid-19 lockdown but also used the time to address the nation obout GBV.

“We are currently facing two pandemics in this country. One being the coronavirus and the second being the brutal killing, rape and violence against the women of this country,” he said.

He further encouraged people to speak up and to stop the protection of men who committed these crimes. He also said that the focus on GBV will always be a top priority of government and the police services of South Africa. President Ramaphosa, for the first time, also mentioned a number of recent female murder victims who had died by the hand of men or a loved one, by the name.

“Let us not forget her name. Let us not stop the fight against this issue.”

Dr Weber added that more support should be provided by the police to make the process of reporting these cases easier.

She explains that dedicated cellphones and offices should be used, as these victims can’t always get hold of police stations and should not be forced to stand in a cue to report such cases.

The Worcester-police urges the following action by victims of gender-based violence: . If you feel or see that you are in danger or you are being abused at home, do not be silent and report the matter to the police. If you know of someone going through such a struggle go to the local police station and report it. . Be vigilant both at home and outside. . Some of the perpetrators are people known to the victims and to the community as well, so we need to work together to eradicate this evil out of our society.

“We do not have to live in fear and be silent when it comes to these gruesome crimes. We need to speak out and make sure that action is taken against individuals who make themselves guilty of gender-based violence.”

If you are in danger at home or need to report GBV contact your nearest police station or the GBV Command Centre on its toll free number, 080 0428 428.

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