Cape Town – The Department of Social Development is set to launch its Victim Empowerment Programme in efforts to better connect gender-based violence victims to essential services and support, under the constrictive Covid-19 lockdown environment.
The program will provide vital services to over 5 000 people in need across the province.
Speaking on the motivation to launch the initiative, Social Development (DSD) MEC Sharna Fernandez said that the department had noted with concern that between April and June this year 5227 victims of GBV accessed the DSD’s psycho-social support services – a sharp increase from the 2518 victims of GBV and crime who had accessed DSD services during the same period last year.
She said: “GBV is a serious threat to the safety and well-being of our women and children. While the implementation of restrictions under the Disaster Management Act may have alleviated some impact and strain on our healthcare system, these restrictions have also had unintended consequences such as limiting access to support services for women and children experiencing GBV.”
“To counter that and provide services for people in need, we decided to put in place this programme. This initiative will offer various support services to GBV victims, ensuring that they receive emotional and practical support, whilst also assisting them with trauma management.
“The programme will also work to educate victims to identify the symptoms of post-traumatic stress, and then access necessary services,” said Fernandez.
Ilitha Labantu spokesperson Siyabulela Monakali said: “There is still a lot more to be done to adequately address the scourge of GBV. Our country needs to heavily invest in prevention and awareness strategies to educate communities about gender-based violence, particularly targeting men to uproot discriminatory norms, behaviours and practices that are prevalent in the culture of men.”
“As an organization that has been working in local communities where GBV is rife, we strongly believe that as a nation we need to take bold steps towards the full realization of women’s rights, and the government, along with its strategic partners, should implement more stringent measures that will help in the fight to end the scourge of GBVF as well as to provide effective support for survivors,” said Monakali.