South Africa extends help to disabled abuse victims

The Gender Based Violence Command Centre has expanded its services to make them accessible to people with disabilities. Blind and deaf people are now able to access counselling, thanks to technological advances.

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Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini launches the Disability Enhanced System on 2 December 2016 to make the Gender Based Violence Command Centre accessible to people with disabilities. (Image: Department of Social Development, Facebook)

Brand South Africa Reporter

Technology has helped to improve the Gender Based Violence Command Centre (GBVCC). Women and children who are deaf or blind and are being abused now also have access to the system.

The Department of Social Development has partnered with cellphone network Vodacom to enable the GBVCC to help disabled people.

The centre was opened in 2014; it operates a call centre for people needing counselling, carried out by professional social workers.

Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini launched the Disability Enhancement System on 2 December in Pretoria.

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“During this month of 16 Days of Activism we continue to hear the voices of women and children but the community of persons living with disabilities continues to be marginalised,” she said. “Initiatives like this aim to respond to that.

“If we say we want to protect the rights of persons with disabilities we need to ask ourselves, what provisions have we made to allow persons with disabilities to live a fair life next to those without disabilities.”

How it works

The system uses Skype for people who are deaf, whereby they can communicate with the social workers using sign language.

Blind people can use a panic button which has a siren light to contact the centre with a distress message. Police are also able to locate the person in need of help.

Dlamini said the Disability Enhanced System had given the department an opportunity to help disabled people, especially deaf and blind women and children.

“Gender-based violence among children and women with disabilities is also prevalent because they are part of South African society, which has a huge problem with the scourge of violence against women and children.”

The department was committed to the National Development Plan, she said, which held that “we must be committed to sustainable development and end violence against women and girls”.

“It remains our responsibility to ensure that women and children with disabilities are not trafficked and exposed to harmful practices,” the minister said.

Source: South African Government News Agency