Risks of gender-based violence continue to intensify in scale and scope while the population is exposed to degenerating food insecurity, compounded by economic hardship and socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The national GBV Hotline (Musasa) has recorded a total of 6,832 GBV calls from the beginning of the lockdown on 30 March until the end of December (1,312 in April, 915 in May 2020, 779 in June, 753 in July, 766 in August, 629 in September, 546 in October, and 567 in November and 565 in December), with an overall average increase of over 40 per cent compared to the pre-lockdown trends. About 94 per cent of the calls are from women.
Psychological violence remains the most frequent form (55 per cent of total cases) followed by physical violence (22 per cent of total cases), economic violence (15 per cent) and sexual violence (8 per cent). About 90 per cent of cases are intimate partner violence.
Reduced public transport availability remains a challenge in urban, peri-urban, and rural areas for survivors of GBV to access timely multisectoral services. In most impoverished areas, de-prioritization of GBV services is increasingly recorded, as access to daily income sources for household sustenance remains constrained, despite the recent easing of lockdown measures.
Service providers continue to report an increase on the number of GBV cases against adolescent girls, as well as exposure to increased negative copying mechanisms, such as child marriage, as one of the indirect consequences of the drought and economic hardship-induced household income reduction. Increase in teenage pregnancies is often identiﬁed among the consequences.
The health sector crisis continues to impact on accessibility of clinical management of rape services. While mobile one-stop centres continue to receive constant support by dedicated nurses, the health personnel are gradually overwhelmed to respond to COVID-19 in static facilities indirectly generates reduced capacity to assist rape victims with timely life-saving treatment.
As a result of the compounded challenges (transport, reduced health personnel at static health facilities) mobile service providers continue to record an increased demand, which they are counterbalancing through doubling the capacity of multisectoral staff on the ground, in order to ensure continuation of services for a larger number of survivors in hotspots.
The passing of Tropical storm Chalane and the related evacuation measures posed additional risks on those who were temporary evacuated, including those related to overcrowding, lack of NFIs, adequate wash facilities and security. While the indirect GBV consequences were contained due to the rapid return to homes of evacuees, the inter-sectoral assessment conducted at Chimanimani temporary camps after the return of evacuees, identified persistent risks of exposure to GBV, due to the overcrowding, lack of adequate wash facilities, lighting and security. Limited availability of mobile and static GBV services near the camps was also recorded.
Since 1 January 2020, the GBV sub-cluster partners have assisted 164,033 individuals (66,026 male, 98,007 female) with community-based GBViE risk mitigation and PSEA outreach, integrated in various community-based mechanisms and with the support of a workforce of 225 community volunteers, including behaviour change facilitators. In addition, 12,352 women and girls were reached with community-based PSS interventions, including at W/G safe spaces, and 15,926 GBV survivors (13,336 female, 2,590 male) were assisted with multisectoral GBV services, through mobile one-stop centres (OSC).
The mobile service provision model continued to enhance service uptake in areas where public transport remains unavailable. GBV Sub-cluster partners continue to coordinate their efforts with the Food Security and WASH clusters partners, for the setup of mobile OSCs and safe spaces near food distribution points and community boreholes. In some districts, stronger collaboration with Health cluster partners have resulted in the integration of mobile OSCs teams into mobile Health clinics. Integrated distribution of
Family planning supplies is being provided in these sites, as a way to address the inability to access supplies at static services due to lack of transport. The integrated health/OSC model further contributes to enhance access to life-saving GBV services through the broader health services entry point.
GBV community surveillance actors also continued to coordinate with FSL community actors at food distribution points, mining areas, water points, permitted community gatherings, contributing to increased availability of safety nets, complaints mechanisms and timely referrals to GBV services in critical hotspots.
The provision of alternative transport support to survivors, including those with disabilities and their caregivers, continues to facilitate access to services. Access to data bundles and airtime for community facilitators engaged in GBV surveillance continued to be supported to ensure direct interaction with hotlines operators and continuous timely referrals.
Digital messages on GBV during COVID-19 continue to be disseminated through social media and radio.
The recorded upsurge of COVID-19 and the South African variant in late December GBV facilities continue to face challenges related to limited availability of basic PPE.
Underfunding remains a critical barrier to the achievement of GBV sub-cluster targets, with only 7 per cent of the HRP requirements funded, while the COVID-19 interventions are currently ongoing only through re-programming of other existing funding, and with less than 5 per cent of requirements met.
The completion of the CERF project implementation in Mid- November generated a reduction in essential mobile GBD service provision in remote areas.