New App Helps Rape Victims Get Help Fast. 2/12/2016

Published by NEWS24

An app called Vimba! has now made it easier for victims and survivors of sexual abuse in Diepsloot to access help.

A
study done by Sonke Gender Justice in partnership with the School of
Public Health at the University of the Witswatersrand found that more
than half the men – 56% – in Diepsloot have abused a woman sexually or
physically in the past year.

The study, Sonke Change Trial, which
was conducted in the township this year, also found that of the men who
admitted to being abusive, most (60.2%) said they had been violent
towards a woman more than once.

Of the 2 600 men aged between 18
and 40 interviewed, 52% believed that their partners should always agree
to sex and 70% thought they should be able to control the clothes a
woman wears, the friends she sees or where she goes.

Diepsloot has
one of the worst gender-based violence statistics and for this reason
has been targeted to help alleviate this crisis.

“Some women don’t
know where to go for help after being violated, with this app at least
they will be able to reach psychologists, social workers, lawyers, and
be able to open a case,” says Sonke Gender Justice project manager
Dumisani Rebombo.

Rebombo says that although the app comes at a
crucial time, society also has to think past things like 16 Days of
Activism where there seems to be the most attention around sexual
violence.

“We need to think of how we can be safe beyond 16 Days
and ensure we hold government accountable. We need to move beyond
activism campaigns and not be boggled down to them in order to act and
do something for women and children,” he said.

The app, funded by Bhekisisa, works by a user dialling *134*403# from their cell phone and needs no data to access or download.

A
server is then notified to send a series of three drop-down menus,
asking the user which extension of Diepsloot they’re and what sort of
help they need (whether for themselves or someone else).

An SMS
will then be sent to the user’s phone containing the phone numbers and
addresses of the organisations in Diepsloot that help victims of
gender-based violence, as well as the numbers of the police and
ambulance service.

If they indicated that they have been raped,
an SMS containing five things to remember (e.g. not to destroy evidence)
is also sent to them.

The app also functions as a means of
collecting data. It can collate things such as the date and time of day
users dialled the helpline, where in Diepsloot they are and what sort of
help they need — which in turn will be used to identify trends in
gender-based violence in the area.

Rebombo says this is to contribute to the ongoing five years’ research and intervention work in Diepsloot.

The
Green Door, Sonke Gender Justice, Lawyers Against Abuse, Afrika Tikkun
and the South African Depression and Anxiety Group have all been
involved in developing the app.

The Vimba helpline app has been
available since November 25 and was officially launched on November 30
at Sonke Gender Justice’s offices in Diepsloot. It will initially be
available in English but isiZulu and Sepedi translations will be added.