As part of its ongoing contribution to the national fight against gender-based violence (GBV) and femicide in South Africa, ICMIF member AVBOB has extended its partnership with the TEARS Foundation for another year to support the TEARS Help-at-your-fingertips® helpline.
By driving awareness around such a pervasive societal challenge, and to enable people to speak up, three-hundred and sixty-five days a year, the partnership between AVBOB and TEARS Foundation aims to create meaningful impact and a safer world for women and children, beyond news headlines or slogans.
The hugely important role that the TEARS Foundation plays in connecting victims of gender-based violence with relevant local support can be seen through the numbers of people requesting help. Over the last year, 99 039 support requests were logged through TEARS’ free 24-hour Help-at-your-ﬁngertips® helpline platform, *134*7355#.
“This partnership was inspired by the tremendous work that the TEARS Foundation continues to do through their helpline,” explains Carl van der Riet (pictured above right), AVBOB’s CEO. “The ethos of family is critical to us and what happens to one family member impacts us all. With that kind of thinking, GBV and violence against children impacts the society we live in, which is why it is so important that we participate in finding viable solutions.”
Watch a video of Carl van der Riet in discussion with TEARS’ founder and director Mara Glennie here.
The COVID-19 impact on GBV
TEARS Foundation is a national woman-led, anti-sexual violence organisation for victims of rape and abuse. The Help-at-your-ﬁngertips® portal is linked to a database of service providers and tracks the location of the caller, sending back details of the nearest care facility and thereby providing immediate support to victims of rape and sexual violence.
“This isn’t a job, it’s a calling,” explains TEARS’ founder and director Mara Glennie (pictured above left). “I personally made the decision to be available 24/7, meaning the first three months of the pandemic I took every single night call myself. A person who calls you at midnight is in need. After my life-threatening abuse, I aimed to start a service based on what I would’ve needed as a victim of abuse. At TEARS we also look at how it impacts you when you have to go to a police station. For this reason, we work closely with the FCS (Family violence, Child protection and Sexual offences) Unit in the South African Police Service, providing education on survivor-centred support for victims of Gender-Based Violence. No one should feel alone!”
“AVBOB’s support this year is enabling us to hire additional staff for the helpline and ensures that help really is always close at hand,” Glennie concludes.
The global goal for this year’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, which will run from 25 November to 10 December 2021, is “End violence against women now!” Since the outbreak of COVID-19, emerging data and reports according to the United Nations, have shown that all types of violence against women and girls, particularly domestic violence, has intensified.
AVBOB’s partnership with the TEARS Foundation launched in August 2020 as part of AVBOB’s broader 365+ campaign. “The 365+ campaign name is a constant reminder that the fight against GBV is an ongoing one throughout the year, and the TEARS Foundation is on the front line of this critical fight,” says Van der Riet.