UN chief António Guterres is calling for measures to address a “horrifying global surge in domestic violence” directed towards women and girls, linked to lockdowns imposed by governments responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The combination of economic and social stresses brought on by the pandemic, as well as restrictions on movement, have dramatically increased the numbers of women and girls facing abuse, in almost all countries. However, even before the global spread of the new coronavirus, statistics showed that a third of women around the world experienced some form of violence in their lives.
The strain on services hampering the response
These numbers give some indication of the scale of the problem, but only cover countries where reporting systems are in place: as the virus spreads in countries with already weak institutions, less information and data will be available, but it is expected that the vulnerability of women and girls will be higher.
Reasons for the shortage of shelters include their conversion into health facilities, or new measures barring new victims for fear of further spreading COVID-19. As for the police, they and other members of security forces are, in many instances, less willing to arrest perpetrators of violence, limiting direct engagement, or are overwhelmed by policing lockdowns.
Violence spike at home
Meanwhile, in Kosovo, the UN Population Fund, UNFPA cited the Ministry of Justice in reporting a 17 percent jump in gender-based violence cases, with urban areas witnessing a particular spike.
This post was originally published by the UN News Centre. Click here to read.