Exploring the heuristic value of nonpersonal data for sexual- and genderbased violence research and prevention in South Africa
Research and media reports indicate that most incidents of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in South Africa, as well as globally, are not reported to the police because of victims’ fears of retaliation, intimidation, stereotyping, secondary abuse and stigmatisation. As a result, there is a lack of accurate data available to the South African public and a certain level of ignorance to the realities of the incidence of SGBV across all sectors of society. The purpose of the study is to explore how non-personal data obtained through mapping the distress calls received on TEARS Foundation’s “Help-at-your-fingertips” service line can be used for SGBV research and prevention purposes. Given that in South Africa the death of women at the hands of an intimate partner has been estimated at six times the global average, the urgent need for alternative SGBV prevention strategies is unquestionable. The study shows how the calls received on the “Help-atyour- fingertips” service line across South African provinces and towns were analysed to identify trends, and visually represent the number of SGBV distress calls over two periods, namely July 2013 to August 2014 and September 2015 to October 2016. The key trends identified include times of year, times of day, highest call volumes in terms of provinces and differences in times of calls in different areas in South Africa as examples of the kinds of information that can be deduced from non-personal data.
The study shows how non-personal data can be used as a powerful tool to make SGBV data visible and to raise public awareness of its incidence in South Africa.
Keywords: Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), geographic mapping, crime
mapping, communication, SGBV prevention, TEARS Foundation, “Help-at-your-fingertips”