It is undeniable that COVID-19 and the measures put in place to control its spread have shone a spotlight on governance, administrative, economic and social challenges. The most prominent of these being the social impact of the virus.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 and the periods of extreme social distancing, there has been an alarming number of incidence of Gender Based Violence (GBV), particularly sexual violence against children. This has warranted a response and swift action on the part of government, civil society and the community at large to ensure the protection of all those affected.

It against this backdrop that BONELA raises concern about the di nwele dladleng campaign which, in the interest of maintaining social distancing encourages people who feel so inclined, to purchase alcohol and consume it at home.

Though we appreciate the spirit of this campaign, it would be remiss to not equally note that “alcohol increases the risk, frequency and severity of perpetration of interpersonal violence such as intimate partner violence, sexual violence, youth violence, elder abuse, and violence against children.”[1]

WHO recommends that people should not “introduce [their] children or other young people to drinking and [.] not [to] get intoxicated in front of them. Child abuse and neglect can be aggravated by alcohol consumption, especially in crowded housing situations where isolation from the drinker is not possible.” WHO further states that “[a]lcohol is closely associated with violence, including intimate partner violence. Men perpetrate most of the violence against women, which is worsened by their alcohol consumption, while women experiencing violence are likely to increase their alcohol use as a coping mechanism.”[2] The campaign, though well meaning; may have negative externalities.

As government, civil society and other stakeholders strategize on the best ways to curb GBV; BONELA recommends that alcohol be consumed away from the home and that social distancing and other protocols be observed in bars, liquor restaurants and clubs to prevent a further increase in COVID-19 infections.

In addition, it is important to continue to ensure that shelters are availed for people subjected to GBV as well as information on available recourse. Interventions such as psycho-social support and legal aid need to be provided as we seek to balance the economic and social effects of COVID-19.

For more information, contact BONELA on: TELL | +267 393 2516 or FAX | +267 3932517

Cindy Kelemi at cindyk@bonela.org or +267 73007782 | Tebogo Gareitsanye at tebogog@bonela.org or +267 73297509

[1] https://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/437608/Alcohol-and-COVID-19-what-you-need-to-know.pdf?ua=1 Alcohol and COVID-19: What You Need to Know. WHO 2020

[2] Ibid