COVID19 is not the only pandemic that our country is battling. The scourge of gender-based violence (GBV) continues to take a heavy toll, costing our economy billions each year and claiming more than 2700 lives since the year 2000 according to some estimates.
“It is clear that we need to do more to honour the women of our country, by protecting them and keeping them safe. It is entirely appropriate therefore to have a regular focus period such as Women’s Month in which we can remind ourselves of the importance of empowering our country’s women,” says Charnel Hattingh, head of Communications and Marketing at Fidelity ADT.
“We can do this by following basic safety tips and making sure we share these tips with our loved ones. There are several organisations that are ready to assist women in need, and we need to share these details as widely as we can.”
When it comes to basic personal safety, Hattingh explains that many opportunistic criminals will be on the look-out for what they perceive to be ‘soft targets’.
“This means that being aware of your surroundings and potential threats is perhaps one of the most valuable first lines of defence.”
Hattingh says these tips can make a positive difference to keeping safe:
- Trust your instincts. Women have great intuition and should listen to their instincts. If someone or something makes you feel uneasy, avoid the individual and leave the area
- Make contact with your private security service provider and ask them if they offer a mobile panic alarm service, which could be downloaded to your mobile phone
- Tell someone where you are going and the time you expect to return. Save the details of the person to be contacted in the event of an emergency to your mobile phone or memorise it
- Be aware of people around you when heading to your vehicle, especially at places such as shopping centres and petrol stations. Ensure that you take a moment to check the street before pulling into a driveway, be it your own or a friend’s.
If you are driving, the first thing to do once you are inside your vehicle is to ensure that all the doors are locked. Never drive with a handbag or any other valuable items on a seat or in the view of anyone looking into your vehicle from the outside. Try and make your car a mobile-free zone so you can concentrate on your surrounds and keeping you and your family safe
“Talk to your loved ones about these tips. By sharing it and by working with the brave men and women of our law enforcement and security partners, we can make a difference and make the world safer for our women,” Hattingh concludes.
The Department of Social Development has set up a helpline service for victims of gender-based violence. Contact them on 0800 428 428 or visit their website for other contact options http://gbv.org.za/contact-us/