About one in four women feel unsafe at home as conflict within households increased between adults since the COVID19 pandemic started, points out a report by the United Nations.
The report comes as the world kicks off the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence, from November 25 to December 10, under the global theme set by the UN Secretary-General’s UNITE campaign, “Orange the World: End Violence against Women Now“.
Noting that violence against women was an existing global crisis that thrives on other crises, UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous said that conflict, climate-related natural disasters, food insecurity and human rights violations contribute to women and girls living with a sense of danger, even in their own homes, neighbourhoods, or communities. “The COVID-19 pandemic, which necessitated isolation and social distancing, enabled a second, shadow pandemic of violence against women and girls, where they often found themselves in lockdown with their abusers. Our new data underlines the urgency of concerted efforts to end this,” she said.
The report notes that woman cited the occurrence or threat of physical violence. Some women specifically reported that they were hurt by another family member (21 per cent) or that other women in the household were victimized (19 per cent). The report specifically mentions that the rates were higher in Ukraine with 35 per cent saying they felt unsafe as they were being physically abused by others in the household. Meanwhile, 34 per cent of Albanian woman said the same. The exposure to physical violence was highest among woman in Kenya (80%), Morocco (69%), Jordan (49%) and Nigeria (48%). Those in Paraguay were the least likely to report such experiences. The UN report points out verbal abuse and denial of basic resources ( 23 per cent) as the most common forms of Violence since COVID 19 began. The report also mentions that 21 per cent of the respondents pointed out denial of communication. Apart from this, 16 per cent reported sexual harassment and 15 per cent physical abuse.
COVID AND HIGH LEVELS OF VIOLENCE
The UN in the report states that high levels of violence against women preceded the COVID-19 pandemic, with nearly two in three women (65 per cent) exposed directly or indirectly to at least one form of violence. It reports that 93 per cent in Bangladesh, 80 percent in Kenya, 78 per cent in Morocco, 68 per cent in Nigeria and 66 per cent in Jordan said the same. It pointed out that seven in ten women 68 per cent) believed that incidence of physical or verbal abuse by a spouse/partner violence increased during the pandemic. Apart from this, over 41 per cent of women said that their mental and emotional health was negatively affected as a result of the pandemic.
More than one in five women (about 22 per cent) reported feeling unsafe during the day while walking alone in the area they live. Meanwhile, more than one in two (54 per cent) said that they felt unSafe walking around at night. Moreover, 40 per cent of women across the 13 countries said that their feelings of safety deteriorated after the onset of the pandemic. Women in Kenya (55%), Bangladesh (53%), Colombia (52%), Paraguay (45%) and Nigeria (43%) reported the highest values while those in Côte d’Ivoire (19%) and Ukraine (13%) reported the lowest. The UN reported that women younger than 60 years of age (about 41 per cent) are more likely to report that they feel less safe walking alone at night since the pandemic. More unemployed women also report this (50%) than employed women (37%). Women living in rural areas (44%) are more likely to report feeling more unsafe while walking alone at night since COVID-19 than those living in urban areas (39%).
MOST LIKELY GROUP
Younger ones aged between 18 and 49 years are the more vulnerable group, with nearly 1 in 2 of them exposed to violence. Woman living with children (partnered 47% or not 48) were more likely to report having experienced violence or to know someone who has since COVID-19. Nearly 4 in 10 women living without children (partnered 37% or not 41%), reported such experiences.
- Put women at the centre of responses, including policy solutions to ensure that their voices, needs and rights are reflected in pandemic responses, recovery. planning and decision-making.
- Allocate additional resources and include evidence-based measures to address violence against women and girls in COVID-19 recovery and response plans
- Strengthen services for women who experience violence, including where COVID-19 has increased existing risk factors and vulnerabilities.
- Invest in medium- and long-term prevention efforts to end violence
- Ensure that gender statistics and sex-disaggregated data are collected regularly, including to measure the impacts of COVID-19 and short- and long-term violence against them