The number of domestic violence cases reported to the South African police between March and April dropped by 69.4%. This figure makes it tempting to believe that in South Africa, unlike many other countries, lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic reduced family and domestic violence. Reliable data is useful but the priority is ensuring survivors have access to high-quality support and services.
Every child has a right to education, best attainable standards of health, and protection from abuse, torture and labour which interfere with the child’s physical, mental, spiritual, moral, or social development. However, Covid-19 has had an adverse effect on the rights and welfare of children in Africa. For many children who now stay at home, other impending risks include harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation (FGM) and being forced into early (child) marriage. Domestic and sexual violence also continue to be a significant concern.
Why is South Africa not showing the rise in domestic violence cases reported elsewhere in the world?
Rapid steps taken in SA to combat the coronavirus didn’t allow sufficient planning or training of security forces.
There is a menu of compliance strategies and tactics against Covid-19 from which to choose, and indeed there are no easy choices. The South African government has opted for a range of strict and arguably repressive practices to be employed by the security forces. Why were such choices made, especially when most other constitutional democracies have not (yet) adopted such a heavy-handed response? Part of the answer is linked to a deep-seated culture of punitiveness amongst the South African elite in terms of how ordinary South Africans (especially the poor) should be governed, combined with the militarisation of social control, particularly policing.