When various governments across the globe started implementing lock-down on their citizens, disturbing reports of a drastic increase in incidents of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) emerged. This became such a widespread phenomenon that the United Nations referred to violence against women and girls during lock-down the shadow pandemic. In South Africa, Carling Black Label through #NoExcuse started working on a solution to continue the fight against GBV during this time. As predicted, the calls for help increased when the national lock-down came into effect. The number of calls going to LifeLine from both men and women went up by 500% from 12k in March to almost 80k in April.
The #NoExcuse team realized that even with such a staggering number of calls there was a group of people who were not being heard. Victims of abuse living under lock-down with their abuser could not call for help without being overheard. Similarly, men going through the pressures and uncertainty of lock-down could feel ashamed to call for help with their families in earshot.
The solution was a dedicated #NoExcuse WhatsApp line where victims of abuse and men seeking mentorship can be put in touch with different organizations to get the help they need silently. The partnership builds on collaboration started in 2017 with South Africa’s Champion beer, Carling Black Label, LifeLine, and Father-A-Nation working together to make silently reporting GBV & getting help possible.
Since the launch of the #NoExcuse WhatsApp function over 7000 people have been in touch with the service. Based off pre-lock-down numbers it was estimated that approximately 500 people would be expected to reach out in the first week, in reality the number of people reaching out in the first week was 5176. This enormous response indicates how using non-verbal communication is aiding in helping a large number of abuse victims as well as men who are seeking mentorship in taking action against GBV.
Speaking at a virtual media update on Tuesday, LifeLine representative Molefi Takalo highlighted the integral role of the innovative #NoExcuse WhatsApp line during the National Lockdown. “This initiative has helped in advertising the help services, and access has been improved. The number of interactions which we are receiving through the line are astronomical. Most significantly, during this time of restricted movement, the service makes it more convenient for victims and survivors. As the daily interaction rate has increased tremendously and the volume of calls are ten times higher. Through the WhatsApp line, LifeLine South Africa in partnership with #NoExcuse is available to provide counseling services for both men and women at any time.” said Takalo.
Takalo’s words were reiterated by Carling Black Label Brand Director, Arné Rust who emphasized the goal of motivating men to positively impact society “When launching the #NoExcuse movement, the brand was informed by Carling Black Label’s status as a lighthouse of modern masculinity. As the largest beer brand in the country, we strongly believe that we have a role to play in challenging South African men to be the champions they can be and to take action against women abuse. Our stance is that it takes true bravery to fight Gender Based Violence. It takes bravery to report it, to talk about it and most importantly it takes a huge amount of bravery to reach out and get help. Our role as #NoExcuse is to make this difficult process easier for those in need and this WhatsApp line has surpassed our expectations in terms of making help more accessible.” Said Rust
“By simply texting the word BRAVE to 0800 150 150, we have given over 7000 people access to help and for this we would like to thank our partners at LifeLine, Father-A-Nation and rAInbow who each provide a unique, safe and confidential service to those in need. For individuals who seek counselling, we have LifeLine. For those looking for mentorship or have been abusive and want to get the help from a “band of brothers” we have Father-A-Nation. Lastly rAInbow is an AI bot that will help people who are not yet ready to speak to a person get relevant information relating to GBV. We have also received extensive support from other organizations such as ForGood, which has gone a long way in mobilizing the public to support #NoExcuse and with Takuwani Riime who represent our ties to government and who act as the voice of the Men’s Sector.” concluded Rust
Speaking at the virtual media update, campaign ambassador Dr Musa Mthombeni expressed his delight at being part of an initiative which is actively playing a role in eradicating gender-based violence ” I found it important that those who are looking for help in situations of abuse, whether the victim or the aggressor are able to get help through platforms such as this #NoExcuse WhatsApp line. It offers an alternative to the traditional avenues of getting help. This is truly why I am so excited about joining this initiative, to spread the word as far and wide as I can. Issues around GBV are rife in our country and continue to shock us every day when a new statistic or story is told about the abuse women and other vulnerable groups find themselves in daily. It’s absolutely shocking, so we need to offer all the versions of support we can so that we start to turn the tide.” Said Dr Mthombeni
In line with Carling Black Label’s long-term commitment against Gender-Based Violence, the #NoExcuse WhatsApp line will remain active post the National Lockdown alongside other properties such as the Champions 4 Change program facilitated by Father-A-Nation.
For more information, consumers can visit the #NOEXCUSE website on www.noexcusesa.com