Ever since the country faced a global pandemic of Covid-19, the attention slightly moved from other issues such as gender-based violence, femicides and police brutality to mention a few. According to Rose Gawaya, an adviser at the Social Policy Network, the government GBV and femicide command centre alone recorded more than 120,000 victims in the first three weeks of the lockdown. The Vodacom support call centres saw a 65% increase in calls “from women and children confined in their homes seeking urgent help” after lockdown began.
Now that the country has moved to alert level one and the lockdown restrictions have been eased, students from Nelson Mandela University have taken an initiative to raise awareness by having a march in several areas in the Nelson Mandela Bay in Port Elizabeth. Student support movements from NMU like Man Mansion and Memeza joined forces to raise awareness about GBV. The march started on the 21st of September and continued to the 23rd of September. They started at Korsten student residence to the nearby location areas such as Noxolo, Dwesi and Zakhele. The last day of the march was destined to Summerstrand, Nelson Mandela University campuses.
Nzaliseko Mayekiso who was the march coordinator explained that the initiative was launched to make people aware about the ongoing crisis of GBV most especially in the location areas. “Men are regarded as the protectors of families or the society, hence we targeted to go the nearby communities and remind our brothers and sisters that we still hold the same responsibilities,” he said. The movement included an awareness for black lives matter which is also a problem on its own. According to Nzaliseko there were many campaigns launched in support of GBV, but the main challenge is the back up for these cases. The message from these students to the public and the municipality’s leadership is simple, “we need an urgent response from the police when such cases are reported, and they should be taken serious by the police.
The public can respond to this by reporting any related cases and making sure that no one is mistreated whether you are female or male,” said Nzaliseko.
By Cwenga Maqhubela