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Vodacom launches a ground-breaking free app to fight the scourge of Gender Based Violence in South Africa

Nie Cele

As the country observe this year’s 16 days of Activisism, Mzansi’s number one citizen, President, Cyril Ramaphosa, recently pronounced that, The legislative and policy measures instituted by governments cannot alone rid the country of the scourge of Gender Based Violence (GBV)  problems.
 
“The 16 Days of Activism campaign affirms the need for all sectors of society to play their part in the fight against gender-based violence.
 
“It is up to us all, as individuals and communities, to bring about the change we sorely need.
 
 
“It is about driving fundamental change in societal attitudes that allow sexism, chauvinism and patriarchy to thrive.”

Against this backdrop, The Vodacom Foundation has   launched a cutting-edge, innovative, unprecedented free to download application designed to aid in the fight against the scourge of GBV. 

The country’s giant mobile phone operator believes that the launch Bright Sky app is a direct response of the alarming increase of the number of GBV cases especially during the past Covid-19 pandemic lockdown as pronounced by government.

They further alluded and acknowledged Ramaphosa’s declaration of this scourge of violence as the second pandemic.

At the recent low profile launch of the Bright Sky app  

Takalani Netshitenzhe, External Affairs Director for Vodacom South Africa, told the media that as long as the society socializes boys and girls as different, it will be a mission impossible to eradicate this scourge.

  “Bright Sky is part of our vision to use our core capability – technology – to respond to some of the societal challenges plaguing our society in this milieu.

“Digital technologies have become a positive enabler in this GBV crisis that we are facing. The app is part of our prevention strategy to strengthen prevention through awareness and education and will also augment the response by the law enforcement agencies through some of its functionalities.

““Fighting GBV requires a coordinated approach and partnership between government, civil society and business. This is how Vodacom comes into the picture, bringing technology into the partnership to help society,” argued Netshitenzhe.

Advocate Brenda Madumise, A member of the inter-ministerial committee on GBV and Femicide set up by  Ramaphosa, told the audience, families, friends and neighbours have a tendency to look  the other way when GBV happens in front of their eyes.”

She also revealed that most women don’t know what to do when faced with the GBV situation.

“Its humiliating to talk in court when violated because clerks of the courts, most Magistrates and Prosecutors are men.”

Madumise also revealed that the ministerial committee on GBV is working hard to remind Prosecutors to oppose bail for every GBV case.

“When it matters, there is a tendency from Prosecutors not to oppose bail. Women don’t feel safe when the alleged perpetrator is granted bail because he goes back to the same community. We are also trying to put time limit on GBV cases and complicity, She said.”

 Mpho Sethojane, Business Development Specialist (Vodacom Business), gave the app an eight out of ten on a Richter scale of 1-10 and stressed that it’s a safe app that cannot be hacked by cyber criminals.

“We can get it up to higher rate. It’s a very much safe to utilize app, He said.”

At the launch it was also stressed that, Vodacom’s GBV programmes focus on prevention, response and victim empowerment.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Bright Sky SA app is free to download on both IOS and Android devices on the App Store and Google Play Store respectively.
  • The app can be used on a mobile phone and/or other smart device. It provides support and information for anyone who may be in an abusive relationship, or for those concerned about someone they know. It is available in three official languages: English, IsiZulu and Sesotho.
  • Bright Sky SA allows users to assess whether they or someone they know is in an abusive relationship by completing a risk assessment questionnaire in a bid to keep them safe.
  • Bright Sky’s features include a short questionnaire to help users identify different forms of abuse and the types of support available. It gives the user information about GBV, the different forms of GBV, and various case studies.
  • Using geo-location, the app provides information on support services available in South Africa, including a directory of police stations, hospitals and NGOs across the country. 
  • By educating people about the forms of domestic abuse, and providing advice on what to do, Bright Sky serves as a resource for friends and family with loved ones suffering from such abuse, ensuring that they are better empowered to help. 
  • The app does not share anyone’s personal details and ensures the complete privacy of its users.
  • Gender-based violence in South Africa is unprecedented. According to the latest GBV research, one in four women will experience violence by men and are five times more likely to be killed. The economic cost to fight gender-based violence in South Africa is between R28 billion and R42.4 billion a year which includes the social services, shelter and health care needed to respond effectively to the crisis.
  • According to the GSMA 2020 Report, smartphone adoption continues to rise rapidly in the Sub-Saharan Africa region, reaching 50% of total connections in 2020, as cheaper devices have become available.
  • The second phase of the Bright Sky app will introduce certain features via  USSD platform to cater for people without smart devices. Vodacom will also zero-rate the app, so that users do not incur any data costs when using it.

ADDITIONAL INFO SUPPLIED BY VODACOM.

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