Women in South Africa are at the forefront of change and their fight inspires hope in a time where our country is rife with suffering. There is so much to celebrate this women’s month, yet the fact that gender-based violence continues to plague our country remains. According to Global Risk Insights, there was an “average increase of 146 sexual offences and 116 specifically rape cases per day” from 2018/19 to 2019/20. These statistics, among the rising South African crime statistics around hijacking and home robbery, threaten the safety of women in our country. This Women’s Day 2021, we share 6 tips that promote safety for women in South Africa.
From personal active steps to protect yourself to indirect support strategies to aid the women’s safety movement and livelihoods of women in our communities, there are many ways that you can contribute to reducing the risks and statistics women face daily in South Africa.
1. Be Aware of and Engaged with Your Surroundings
Awareness and vigilance are the most significant first steps to reduce safety risks as we go about our daily lives in South Africa. From constantly scanning your surroundings at coffee shops, bars, and other public places to noting exits and escape routes at venues should you need to leave in a hurry, remaining aware of your surroundings will give you an advantage in a potentially threatening situation? Beyond vigilance, active engagement with your surroundings is critical.
One should draw on confidence to acknowledge strangers and others by making eye contact with them, showcasing that you are aware of their presence. Asserting confidence projects strength and helps separate one from being seen as a victim.
2. Self-Defence Strategies
Self-defence strategies instil confidence in South African women and give them power in a country enduring terrible crime and gender-based violence. Self-defence classes equip women with the technical know-how to defend themselves should they ever need to.
Coupled with pepper spray, a taser, or a stun gun, the art of self-defence becomes a vital safety strategy that is as emotionally beneficial as it is physically incapacitating for perpetrators of crime and gender-based violence.
If you and your girlfriends join a self-defence class together, you can always top off your training with a spa treatment to reward yourselves afterwards!
3. What to Do When Travelling
Women travelling alone should take extra safety precautions, such as the following:
- Avoid hotspot crime areas and roads such as those outlined by ArriveAlive
- Never pull over for someone, instead report incidents that are on the side of the road to authorities or medical services once you arrive safely at your destination
- If you ever feel as if you are being followed, make a mental note of the car’s model, colour, and number plate and head straight for the nearest police station
- Invest in safety films for your car windows as these will help prevent hijackers from smashing through your windows
- Notify those you are visiting, or a close friend, of your location at all times by sharing your live WhatsApp location
4. Watch Over Other Women
Switching from a ‘me’ to a ‘community’ mindset would benefit all areas of life, and it is certainly an effective approach to supporting South African communities. Whether you see a woman waiting for a lift outside of a bar alone or see a woman displaying uncomfortable body language around a man, there are opportunities to step in and support women throughout daily life.
From waiting together until they are safely in the car to roleplaying friendly catchup and asking whether or not they are doing alright, one can use one’s instincts to drive positive support for women in our communities. Another beneficial signal to know about is the domestic violence hand signal that has become globally acknowledged for its use over Zoom catch-ups during the pandemic.
The signal involves palming your hand in front of your web camera with your thumb tucked in and then closing your fingers over your thumb to create a fist. Whether you’re saving a woman from unwanted male attention or making her feel safe while waiting for her ride, watching over other women is a supportive gesture that inspires others to pay it forward and do the same.
5. Donate to Women and Gender-Based Violence Foundations
The majority of steps on this list are active personal initiatives that promote women’s safety in South Africa, yet, there are many indirect ways that you can support women beyond these strategies. An incredibly powerful way to reduce the risks associated with women’s safety is by financially supporting women’s safety foundations.
The following organizations continuously strive to better the lives of women in South Africa through impactful initiatives driven by community members who wish to show their support:
- The 1st for Women Foundation: Long-term activists in the fight against women’s abuse who raise millions of rands to make a tangible and sustainable difference to the lives of women living in South Africa.
- TEARS: A women-led organization in South Africa dedicated to providing nationwide assistance, crisis intervention, education, and more to women who have and do experience sexual abuse by men.
- Sonke Gender Justice: An African non-profit organisation advocating for gender justice and providing regional programmes to support women and children, prevent gender-based violence, and more.
6. Secure Your Family and Girlfriends this Women’s Day 2021 with Secura
We hold the safety of South African women at the core of our business and deliver tools to reduce risks and support fellow citizens when they are at home, commuting, and outdoors. With our Individual and Family Vouchers now available, we offer women and their families or girlfriends access to the most reliable and affordable location-based armed response on the market.
Our goal is to arm as many women and citizens of South Africa with the highest security response device at the most budget-friendly price – so, click here to get 6-month access for as little as R230.