#NoExcuse introduces WhatsApp line to help victims of gender-based violence during lockdown

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New WhatsApp line to help victims of gender-based violence during lockdown. Picture: iStock
New WhatsApp line to help victims of gender-based violence during lockdown. Picture: iStock

Gender-based violence has significantly spiked in South Africa since the announcement of the nationwide lockdown with reported cases rising from less than 1 500 prior to the lockdown restrictions to more than 5 000 under the strict government measures to reduce the Covid-19 coronavirus.

The daunting upsurge had rightfully raised the ire of government and civic organisations, and prompted a response from various organisations, including Carling Black Label which had launched a #NoExcuse initiative.

Although the number of reported cases was on the rise, the number of unreported cases were not known.

In an effort to give victims of abuse – men and women – a way to get counselling silently, #NoExcuse, launched by Carling Black Label in 2017, had introduced a WhatsApp line through which victims could get help.

Carling Black Label’s brand director, Arné Rust, said the initiative was “to encourage people to be brave and give them a way to get help”.

“This WhatsApp line gives victims of abuse, who could be men or women, a way to get counselling silently. It also puts men, who are struggling to be their inner champion, in touch with a mentor, someone to talk to, so that they can start on the journey to be champion men. All of this can now happen silently,” Rust said.

“People can send the word Brave to 0800 150 150 and get in touch with the right organisations to get the help they need.

The text-based service will enable them to silently send a text for help, without being detected
Carling Black Label’s brand director, Arné Rust

“We will be partnering with other corporate entities, government departments and affiliates, such as Takuwani Riime and the Men’s Sector, to grow awareness and remove barriers to getting help. While #NoExcuse has always encouraged victims to be brave and report immediately, there are other socioeconomic problems that need to be considered.”

Given the various circumstances in which people find themselves during the lockdown, it is difficult for victims of abuse to call for help and also stops men, who are ashamed of showing weakness, from reaching out.

Rust said: “The text-based service will enable them to silently send a text for help, without being detected.”

The #NoExcuse campaign had two phases – the first phase was to raise awareness about the LifeLine number, so that people would know where to turn to should they need help. The second phase was to provide them with insight on the functionality of WhatsApp, knowing help was just one Brave text away.

For the first week of lockdown police statistics showed that more than 2 300 complaints of gender-based violence were recorded.

In a virtual briefing with the interim steering committee on gender-based violence and femicide on Thursday, President Cyril Ramaphosa called for more shelters to house victims of abuse.

He said a number of government buildings had been identified and would be repurposed as gender-based violence shelters.

“I want to see more of these centres being spread out in the country. I am frankly not even happy with the number of more than 100 by 2025. I want to see more of these centres throughout the length and the breadth of our country,” he said.

For more information, consumers can visit the #NoExcuse website on www.noexcusesa.com or following the conversation by visiting the Carling Black Label verified pages on social media.


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