Women’s Shelter Helpline Proves to be Essential

Cape Town - A little more than a month since the launch of the National Shelter Movement of South Africa’s (NSMSA) 24-hour toll-free shelter helpline, the centre has revealed that 776 calls have been fielded.

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The helpline was launched last month as a response to help victims of domestic abuse access shelter services in each of the nine provinces, while also assisting with a variety of other issues that impact survivors.

Most calls were received from the Western Cape with 157, followed by Gauteng with 112, while no calls were recorded from the Northern Cape. A total of 158 calls were for shelter placement and the rest for sexual abuse and domestic violence.

NSMSA executive head Zubeda Dangor said one of the key issues still plaguing the sector was that not all victims were aware that shelters exist, and at times, neither do first responders such as the police.

"In our work with abused women, we have also had to deal with many horror stories regarding protection orders. Through the National Shelter Helpline, we advise women on these matters; what they should expect when dealing with the police and what to do if their needs are not adequately served.

“Our social workers also guide women through the processes associated with obtaining and the issuing of protection orders, and also provide advice and assistance should victims encounter any problems,” said Dangor.

National Shelter Helpline project lead Bernadine Bachra said they are expecting an increase in the number of calls of women requesting assistance as the helpline is widely known to the public.

"We are at the point of having to employ more social workers within the next months to assist. The service is needed and is an essential service for survivors and one that we can now see is going to be a pivotal response to gender-based violence in the country when it comes to assisting survivors," Bachra said.


Article originally appeared in the Cape Argus