GBV: Care & Support in a Time of Epidemic
A research project dedicated to better understanding how COVID-19, and the subsequent implementation of lockdown in South Africa has impacted on the incidences, experiences and responses to domestic violence in the country.
On 27 March 2020 South Africa entered COVID19 lockdown. One of its consequences was also to effectively confine women to their homes in the constant presence of their abusive partners. Recognising the potential danger in this, government declared shelters to be essential services and required their continued operation subject to specific conditions. But at the same time, women’s access to transport, courts and police stations, as well as their ability to move about freely was severely curtailed, making help-seeking difficult. Media reports since have been filled with statistics both alarming and conflicting regarding the increase of domestic violence during this period. Yet there has been little analysis of these claims and less exploration of the actual and multiple ways in which the lockdown may have shaped women’s experiences of violence during this period and the impact that was had by conditions imposed on shelters. With aspects of the lockdown slated to remain in place for some time, and its socio-economic impact likely to last even longer, it is important that we have answers to better understanding of the conditions enabling of violence, as well as that of the future of policy and practice in relation to domestic violence and care work. This work is a continuation of a previous project focused on strengthening the states response to Gender-Based Violence particularly from the context of sheltering for abused women.
About the Project
Series 1: Evidence of Domestic Violence during Lockdown
The first publication pertaining to this project, and its associated virtual discussion, presents the available evidence for violence during the lockdown using data from three points of service, the national Gender-Based Violence Command Centre, the South African Police Services and health facilities. Series 2 and 3 as well as the final research study will follow in due course.
Series 2: Adapting to Disaster: Domestic Violence Shelters and South Africa’s COVID-19 Lockdown
The second brief in this series lays the ground for the in-depth research report reflecting on the qualitative and experiential dimensions of the lockdown, both for the women who sought refuge, as well as those providing shelter services. Written from the perspective of shelters, brief 2 provides two accounts of working under these dramatically altered circumstances. The first tells how shelters adapted to the state of disaster through the harnessing and alignment of multiple processes and actors. The second is a considerably less sunny account. Focusing on the Department of Social Development, the brief surfaces habits and histories so entrenched that they were impervious to change – even in the face of disaster.
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Previous related projects: Enhancing State Responsiveness to Gender-Based Violence
"Enhancing State Responsiveness to Gender-Based Violence: Paying the True Costs" was a 3-year European Union funded project undertaken in partnership with the National Shelter Movement of South Africa between 2016 to 2018. The project aimed to support state accountability for adequate and effective provision of domestic violence survivor support programmes, specifically those related to the sheltering of abused women. It also aimed to raise public awareness of the important role of shelters and to strengthen and build their capacity and services. This work has resulted in the amassing of a solid body of evidence on key challenges affecting the sheltering sector as well as challenges that victims/survivors face when seeking police and other services. This project built on the successes of an earlier project undertaken in partnership with the Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre between 2011 and 2013 which was also funded by the European Union.