As the 16 days of activism to end violence against women, the UN Women had called on all to take action to support women and girl survivors of violence against women.
In its concept note, the UN women shed light on the magnitude of the problems as excalated by the pandemic.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated key risk factors for VAWG, such as food shortages,
unemployment, economic insecurity, school closures, massive migration flows and the threat of
civil unrest. There has been an alarming increase in multiple forms of violence against women
and girls, especially physical, psychological, sexual and economic forms of domestic violence
fueled by household economic and food insecurity and confined living conditions due to
lockdown and social isolation measures.
School closures, financial and food insecurity have
heightened the risk of violence for girls including sexual exploitation, harassment, and child
marriage. There are also reports of increased sexual abuse and harassment, both online and
offline, and in some settings, an increase in femicides. Certain harmful practices, such as female
genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriages, have been pushed further underground during
the pandemic. Quarantines and social isolation have negatively influenced mental health increasing the risk of problematic coping behaviors including family violence and conflict.
Limited physical mobility, suspended public transport, and closed or stretched capacity of
specialist support services (i.e. SOS hotlines, shelters, crisis centers, legal aid, rape clinical
management, sexual and reproductive health services) has hindered the ability of VAWG
survivors to access support including first medical aid, justice, health care, psycho-social care and
social protection. Shelters and support centers for VAWG survivors are closed or struggling
to procure food, maintain hygiene and health care necessary to take cases. Women and girls
may assume closure of services means services for violence are not open and being on lockdown
with perpetrators can make them feel unsafe to seek help, leading to an under-reporting of
violence to formal authorities. Given the existing gender digital divide, women and girls in many
countries may not have access to mobile phones, computers, or internet to access services to
address VAWG and/or updated COVID-19 information. Perpetrators may use restrictions due
to COVID-19 to exercise power and control over their partners to further reduce their access to
services and support from formal and informal networks”.
The theme for the UN System’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence activities 2020 from 25 November to 10 December, is: “Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!”