Police statistics for the first week of lockdown show that more than 2 300 complaints of gender-based violence were recorded. According to the organisation 1000 Women Trust, this number is 37% higher than the weekly average recorded last year.
1000 Women Trust invests in women-led grassroots initiatives and mobilises women across South Africa to show solidarity and work towards eradicating violence against women and children.
Statistics show that a woman is killed every three hours in South Africa and in 50% of cases, the murder is committed by a man she had a close relationship with. This number is five times the global average. More than 110 incidents of rape per day is being reported to the police with the number of unreported sexual assaults committed estimated to be far higher. Gender-based violence in South Africa has surged since the national lockdown regulations were implemented on 27 March 2020.
To give women being subjected to gender-based violence the opportunity to cry out for help, 1000 Women Trust is launching colour-coded language using colour hearts on social media. The colour-coded hearts also convey the message to survivors of gender-based violence that they are not alone.
“Through this new colour-coded language of hearts, the message to South African women is clear: You may be isolated, but you are not alone. By posting a heart of a specific colour on your social media pages or Whatsapp status, you are telling your friends whether you need their help,” explains Tina Thiart, founder member of 1000 Women Trust.
The language is simple and the colour of the heart conveys a specific message:
Blue/yellow heart – you are in a good mindset, safe space, and happy. This will let your friends know that you are fine and they don’t need to worry.
Green, black and red hearts – you might be anxious, exhausted or irritated, but you are coping. Your friends will know to check in more regularly and assist where possible.
Orange – you are experiencing gender-based violence and need urgent assistance. Discuss with your friend what action she needs to take like calling the police or neighbourhood watch or somebody that can assist you urgently.
Purple – you are experiencing trauma and require immediate action from your friends. Discuss with your network of friends what action you would need.
White – you are thankful and in a good space.
Brown – you are confused and can’t put your feelings into words, you are simply not sure how you feel.
“During level 4 of the continued lockdown regulations, many women may suffer emotionally and mentally because of the danger of gender-based violence. We want to empower women to communicate with their friend’s network if they need assistance and also enable them to help their friends despite not being able to visit or assist them physically. Our colour-coded message system ensures that all women’s voices will be heard,” says Thiart.
1000 Women Trust also provides counselling or a vent buddy (someone you can talk to in confidence) to help women cope with their situation.