The ignored pandemic: the twin crisis of gender-based violence and COVID-19 – World

Action against gender-based violence pushed to the fringes of the global response to COVID-19

A new report from Oxfam shows an undeniable increase in gender-based violence (GBV) during the COVID-19 pandemic around the world, which too many governments and donors are not doing enough to tackle.

The report, The Ignored Pandemic: The Dual Crisis of Gender-Based Violence and COVID-19, showed the number of calls survivors made to domestic violence hotlines in ten countries during the first months of lockdown. The data shows an increase of 25 to 111 percent; in Argentina (25%), Colombia (79%), Tunisia (43%), China (50%), Somalia (50%), South Africa (69%), United Kingdom (25%), Cyprus (39 %), Italy (73%) and the largest increase in Malaysia where calls increased by over 111%.

In many households, the coronavirus has created a “perfect storm” of social and personal anxiety, stress, economic pressure, social isolation, including with family members or abusive partners, and an increase in alcohol and substance use, leading to an increase in domestic violence.

Meanwhile, India has also registered a 250% increase in domestic violence cases, according to the National Commission for Women. Domestic violence counselors said they were unable to reach seriously injured or suicidal women and girls or those whose partners controlled their access to phones.

The report shows that too few countries have acted seriously enough to tackle the GBV pandemic. Even before the outbreak of GBV triggered by the pandemic, in 2018 alone, more than 245 million women and girls were subjected to sexual or physical violence by an intimate partner – a number greater than global total of coronavirus cases (199 million) between October 2020 and October 2021.

“It is a scandal that millions of women and girls and LGBTQIA + people have to live through this double pandemic of violence and COVID-19. Gender-based violence has resulted in injury, emotional distress, and increased poverty and suffering, which are utterly inexcusable. The pandemic has exposed the systematic failure of governments around the world to protect women, girls and LGBTQIA + people from violence against them, simply because of who they are, ”said Gabriela Bucher, Executive Director of ‘Oxfam International.

Women’s rights organizations whose mission is to support women and girls and LGBTQIA + people against violence have been more likely to have been affected by funding cuts, exactly when their work is most needed. necessary. In an Oxfam survey released in June this year, more than 200 women’s rights organizations in 38 countries reported reduced funding and restricted access to decision-making spaces. Thirty-three percent had to lay off between one and ten employees, while nine percent had to shut down completely.

Even though 146 UN member states have officially declared their support for action on gender-based violence in their COVID-19 response and recovery plans, only a handful have followed through. Of the $ 26.7 trillion that governments and donors have mobilized to respond to the pandemic in 2020, only 0.0002% has been spent on tackling GBV.

“The pandemic has worsened long-standing gender-based discrimination, which has increased the vulnerability of women and girls and LGBTQIA + people to violence and abuse. If governments do not deliberately launch strong and well-funded strategies to tackle this problem, the gains made in women’s empowerment over the past 30 years are at risk. We have to avoid that, and the time is right, ”said Bucher.

A few governments, however, have made efforts to respond to the gender-based violence crisis. For example, Indonesia and New Zealand have introduced national protocols and identified GBV service providers as essential workers. South Africa has taken steps to strengthen GBV reporting channels.

The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence that begins today through December 10, 2021 provides governments, donors and activists with an opportunity to reflect on emerging issues of inequality that put women and girls at risk and tackle it urgently. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that governments can take extraordinary steps to protect their citizens and respond to deadly crises when prompted to act. We need to see more efforts to tackle gender-based violence.

Oxfam recommends that states and governments ensure a more coordinated, comprehensive and multisectoral response to GBV that enables victims to access effective and quality services. Governments and donors should channel more funds to women’s rights organizations and feminist movements working to end GBV and support survivors. In addition, more funds should be allocated for better data collection and analysis of national sex-disaggregated statistics to inform evidence-based interventions to end GBV.

“As the world comes together to mark 30 years of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, there is an urgent need to take a truly gender-sensitive approach in every country’s efforts to respond to and recover from COVID-19. Governments and donors need to deliver on their commitments to promote gender equality by ensuring investments in all areas that we know could help end gender-based violence. Only by doing so can we fight for a future that is fairer, more secure and in which people live free from discrimination, “says Bucher.

Notes to Editors

The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is an annual international event that takes place over 16 days from November 25, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, until December 10, Human Rights Day. of man. This year’s event marks the 30th anniversary of its first commemoration in 1991. The event is a platform used by organizations and activists around the world to call for the prevention and elimination of domestic violence. for women and girls.

Data on calls to national / GBV helplines in ten low-, middle- and high-income countries during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has been compiled from various reports by United Nations, national NGOs and international and government sources. The increase in call volumes is presented as a range between the lowest and highest percentage value among different countries.

Read it report.

Contact information

Florence Ogola, in Nairobi | florence.ogola@oxfam.org | +254 733770522

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