In recent days, the prevalence of gender-based violence (GBV) has, once again, ignited outrage against what many have dubbed a “war on women” (and children).
Gender-based violence – a global pandemic
Gender-based violence (GBV) refers to violent acts deliberately inflicted on an individual based on his or her biological gender. Violent acts include those of a physical, verbal, emotional, sexual or psychological nature. Abusive threats and coercion are also factors associated with GBV, as well as economic or educational deprivation. The result is that a person is deprived on their natural human rights.
The World Bank estimates that 1 in 3 women around the world have been exposed to first-hand physical and/or sexual violence at some point in their lives. They also highlight that a staggering 200 million females have endured the trauma of female genital mutilation in more than 30 countries.
The scourge of GBV in South Africa is no less distressing. Headlines such as ‘a woman is murdered every three hours’ highlights just how prevalent these criminal acts are within our own country too. It’s no surprise that it sparked numerous protests around the country in recent months.
The world is indeed crying out, and numerous organisations are amplifying awareness messages through campaign work in an effort to reach as many individuals as possible.
One such initiative is the annual 16 Days of Activism campaign which is run globally in an effort to change behaviours and safeguard societies against malicious acts of harm. The initiative is aimed at driving awareness around ‘no violence against women and children’ between 25 November and 10 December.
Discover Your Voice – dedicated trauma support line and additional benefits
“We all need to play our part to bring about change,” Discovery Group Chief Executive Officer Adrian Gore said recently when sharing a few thoughts with employees.
“My plea to you is to self-reflect on what we can do differently to create a culture that is safe and dignified for all people. This may be in the way we raise our children, our contribution to our community, or simply being clear on what is acceptable dialogue and behaviour amongst our friends and peers; and actively calling out behaviour that contradicts this.”
On the back of these thoughts, a seed for a new initiative, #DiscoverYourVoice, was sown. For an organisation that is heavily invested in the prosperity of all lives in South Africa, Discovery developed this campaign initiative as a means to address one fundamental reality of this problem – the treatment of people.
We truly believe that the #DiscoverYourVoice initiative and the setting up of a much needed trauma support service and unlocking of scheme benefits will make a difference and we encourage you to make use of it if ever it is needed. No one should ever suffer silently.
The programme is about providing immediate and confidential trauma support at the most critical time of need.
Individuals will be able to access direct support via the Discovery911 Emergency Line 0860 999 911. These support channels will be available, 24/7 with complete confidentiality and at no cost to any individual seeking help.
The programme has been designed to have a dedicated option for trauma associated with GBV and puts an individual directly in touch with a dedicated high touch specialist. Offering high-touch support, these specialists will be able to direct the person to:
- Any emergency support that may be needed (i.e. hospitalisation or medical treatment)
- Offer counselling support sessions
- Arrange appropriate consultations with various healthcare professionals
The programme is available to all members of Discovery Health Medical Scheme, offering comprehensive assistance should a traumatic event take place. The programme will provide additional Scheme benefits, as is required by the individual’s unique circumstances and will be unlocked by the dedicated high touch journey.
Supporting those actively working to make a difference
Every year we honour various professionals in the medical field through the Discovery Foundation.
This year, Dr Yandiswa Mnyanda, the Chief Medical Officer in the Accident and Emergency Department at Cecilia Makiwane Hospital near East London, was chosen to receive the ‘Rural Individual Fellowship Award’ for her work in providing quality care to individuals affected by gender-based violence – in particular, survivors of sexual violence.
Dr Mnyanda decided that she needed to do more than just treat physical injuries. She enrolled herself in a GBV course in East London and also helped set up the Thuthuzela Care Centre for sexual-assault survivors at the hospital.
She also developed a study to identify all the reasons why survivors tend to be late in reporting an incident or seeking medical care. With her Discovery Rural Individual Fellowship award, she is actively studying more than 1 300 survivor files so that targeted awareness initiatives can help to encourage necessary interventions much earlier.
Taking a community-based, multi-pronged approach
Generating awareness, understanding and addressing underlying risk factors, as well providing support and treatment with a holistic approach are key factors for dealing with and managing this enormous societal challenge. Since we are all exposed and vulnerable, we can all contribute to driving a necessary change for the better.
“We have a responsibility to our daughters, sisters, mothers and also to all in our community who live and work with us, and have chosen to make South Africa their home,” says Gore.
“Paying lip service about the ideal of a safe and trusting society is not enough. At this vital moment for our country, we will be judged by our choices and by our behaviours, and not by our words. This is the essence of integrity - and we cannot accept anything less,” he adds.
Discovery Health Medical Scheme is an independent non-profit entity governed by the Medical Schemes Act and regulated by the Council for Medical Schemes. It is administered by a separate company, Discovery Health (Pty) Ltd, an authorised financial services provider.