Increase in demand for Gender-Based Violence Services
As Women’s Month draws to a close, Western Cape Minister of Social Development, Sharna Fernandez has made an appeal for the wellbeing and safety of women, particularly those experiencing various forms of vulnerability and abuse, to remain a priority.
“If we are to address gender-based violence (GBV), we must continue to speak up about it, 365 days of the year. It is also crucial to share information about the resources available to victims of violence, and I would like to use this opportunity to thank every person who has continued to do so,” says Fernandez.
As awareness around accessing help continues to grow, and inter-departmental referrals improve, so does the demand for the Department’s GBV services.
Nearly 6 000 people accessed psychosocial support services during the first quarter of the current financial year. During the last financial year, more than 21 000 people accessed these services.
The Department has been strengthening its approach to providing services to victims of GBV by the appointment of social workers to specialise in gender-based violence; improving inter-departmental and organisational referral pathways; and the opening of six additional shelters for GBV victims in previously underserved areas in the West Coast, Garden Route and the Central Karoo, bringing the total number of shelters in the province to 26.
“On 1 August, we launched women’s month by coming together as the Western Cape Government, along with civil society, NPO partners, and school children to form human chains as a show of solidarity against GBV, and to show our commitment to a gender-equitable society. It is imperative that we maintain this momentum, and that we all continue speaking as one voice against GBV, to make this province safer for women,” says Fernandez.