Freedom over feardom

That’s the goal of a newly-launched local NGO in helping South African women regain their freedom of movement and safety in public spaces.

Durban-based Cobra Security Group recently launched the Women’s Safety Initiative (WSI) through the Cobra Family Trust – in response to the scourge of gender-based violence currently afflicting South African women.

The first-of-its-kind initiative utilizes social media technology to provide women with access to free and immediate security protection. All this in a bid to provide women living in and around Durban with peace of mind, safety and security when at their most vulnerable.

The premise of the free-to-use intervention service is simple: should a woman require assistance – be it someone to walk her home from lectures, to wait with her at a bus stop, or any other security measure, all she has to do is send a message to the dedicated WSI WhatsApp line and request for a security officer to meet her at her desired location and one will be dispatched to that area immediately.

According to Cobra Security CEO Dhiren Naidoo, the idea for the WSI was borne out of the need to create a safer South Africa for all women – with a focus on safer public spaces.
“A safer world starts with safe cities and we’re taking the first steps towards achieving this by using our years of experience and credibility in the security industry to give back to society,” Naidoo said.
“A world where women don’t have to constantly be on guard, looking over their shoulders, or be in a state of perpetual fear is possible… it just needs commitment from individuals, big businesses and society as a whole to achieve this,” Naidoo added.

While the initiative is currently in its test phase in Durban, it’s set to launch officially in February 2020, with plans to expand to other provinces within the next few months.
The WSI is also using their social media channels as a public awareness campaign to create a dialogue around issues of gender-based violence, femicide, toxic masculinity and women’s rights.

“The shocking statistics around femicide and gender-based violence speak for themselves. Sexual harassment and other forms of violence against women in public spaces are a daily occurrence, which drastically reduces a women’s freedom of movement and increases her levels of fear. This initiative will allow women to take back ownership of their movements and regain a sense of security,” Naidoo said.

The initiative will soft launch officially on Monday, December 2, 2019 in the greater Durban area on a 24/7 basis.
“What better time than now, during the 16 Days of Activism campaign, to address this issue and enforce this initiative?” Naidoo asked.
Currently, six full-time security guards have been allocated to the project during its trial run (until the end of January 2020), but Cobra Security have committed to making more staff available for the project across the country post the pilot phase, should the need arise.
“We’re specifically increasing visibility around campuses in and around Durban because we’ve identified an urgent need for security measures around these spaces.
“We’re taking accountability for the fact that for too long our inactions have spoken louder than words, and now we want to change that. “We recognize gender-based violence as a violation of human rights,” Naidoo said.

He added: “How else can we achieve gender equality and empower all South African women if we fail to act? Our mission is to eliminate all forms of discrimination, violence and harassment against women and we hope that women will use this service effectively over the next few months in order to stop becoming a statistic.”

For further information, visit:
www.womenssafetyinitiative.co.za or visit the Instagram and Facebook pages (@womenssafetyinitiative)
The WSI WhatsApp line is: (+27)817279668

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