Strangers You Know


The shadow pandemic – Strangers You Know

31 January 2022
Gender-based violence is rampant worldwide, aggravated by the current pandemic.
Strangers You Know stop gender based violence

The Covid-19 pandemic has managed to exacerbate problems the world is facing and gender-based violence (GBV) is no exception.

Already an ongoing scourge in South Africa – SAPS crime statistics from November 2021 show that has been an increase of 31.7% in child murders and an increase in the rape and murder of women. That’s almost a year and a half into the pandemic, South Africa went into a hard lockdown at the end of March 2020. At the same time, the National Strategic Plan (NSP) on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (GBV-F) was approved by parliament, to ensure that everyone contributes to the solution.

Yet, the pandemic has proven to add fuel to the fire, worsening the GBV situation in the country.

“This toxic mix of stressors heightens the risk of violence in the home both between intimate partners and by caregivers against children,” writes Shanaaz Mathews director of the Children’s Institute, Department of Paediatrics, University of Cape Town; and Lauren October, a junior research fellow in the same department on the Daily Maverick website. “The lack of access to normal psychosocial support systems like schools, extended family or friends meant that many individuals struggled in silence.”

The world has collectively responded to the Covid-19 pandemic in a somewhat almost unified voice. And there are calls that GBV is dealt with the very same gusto and vision.

“We have seen the whole world respond to the Covid-19 pandemic, with all hands on deck, and with responsive investment and protocols backed by determination. Violence against women is also a pandemic – one that pre-dates the virus and will outlive it,” writes UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. “As we face Covid-19’s devastation, there has never been a more important moment to resolve to put our combined resources and commitment behind the biggest issues, and to end violence against women and girls, for good.”

UN Women has called on for a “cease-fire at home” approach while Mathews and October write that preventing GBV “requires a partnership between government, civil society, academics and business.  It is crucial that the NSP GBV-F is realistically costed and funded through a mechanism that is able to reach programmes and services in communities where the need is the greatest.”

Watch these GBV-related stories on Carte Blanche:

Join the conversation with #StrangersYouKnowSA and #MNet101 on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Season 1 of Strangers You Know is available on DStv Catch Up.

Sources: The Daily Maverick, UN Women, Carte Blanche