Civil society activists calls for inclusion of domestic violence risk in disaster response to COVID-19
Measures to combat domestic violence need to be given attention and addressed by national disaster management agencies, according to a statement issued today by civil society organizations.
Civil society organizations (CSOs) expressed solidarity with, respect, and appreciation for the actions that the Provincial Government has taken to protect citizens from the COVID-19 pandemic and special appreciate the swift actions of frontline health medical staff and security agencies in relation to the prevention and response to pandemic.
Data released by UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency says that 31 million additional cases of gender-based violence (GBV) can be expected to occur if the lockdown continues for at least 6 months. For every 3 months the lockdown continues, an additional 15 million extra cases of gender-based violence are expected. It also says that COVID-19 will also disrupt efforts to end child marriage, potentially resulting in an additional 13 million child marriages taking place between 2020 and 2030 that could otherwise have been averted.
According to the Civil Society Organizations while the root cause of GBV is unequal power relations, the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to increase the known triggers of GBV. Indications from women’s rights organizations and GBV service providers in Pakistan and elsewhere around the world during COVID-19 so far, as well experiences from past epidemics, point to increased risks of gender based violence
Mr.Qamar Naseem Program Coordinator Blue Veins and co-chair EVAW/G Alliance KP said, “Women and girls are more affected by pandemics generally because of the gender inequality evident in society at large. “Women and girls trapped in abusive domestic situations are in jeopardy because of the lockdowns and restrictions on their movements imposed by governments to contain the spread of the pandemic. We call on all on the provincial and national disaster management authorities to give attention to this urgent issue so that support to victims of domestic abuse are included in their COVID-19 response plans”.
Taimur Kamal Coordinator of Pakhtunkhwa Civil Society Network Said “Govt needs to allocate adequate funding and careful planning of shelters for women and girls escaping domestic abuse. It also means increasing the level of online support services including help-lines to police and social services. It is clear that health workers and police services are working at full stretch dealing with the consequences of this pandemic, but it is crucially important that they liaise with civil society organizations so that necessary support is provided to the increasing number of victims of domestic violence as a result of COVID-19.”
Women rights Activist from “Girls Got Voice Said” it is clear from current pandemic, that during health crises, women typically take on additional physical, psychological and time burdens as caregivers. As such, it is critical that all actors involved in efforts to respond to COVID-19 – across all sectors – consider GBV within their programs planning and implementation.