Covid-19 aggravates GBV

Pandemic exacerbates gender inequalities

08 March 2021 | Social Issues

JEMIMA BEUKES

WINDHOEK

The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated gender inequalities and placed women and girls at a much greater risk of gender-based-violence, a United Nations (UN) and African Union (AU) policy report has shown.

It was found that although it has claimed many lives, Covid-19 disproportionately impacted on women and girls’ lives and is threatening to reverse the hard-won gains in advancing women’s and girls’ rights and gender equality.

The report, titled ‘Gender-Based Violence in Africa During the Covid-19 Pandemic’, says the pandemic and response measures have disrupted the availability and accessibility of services for survivors of violence.

Inequality

School closures have also intensified gender inequalities, especially for the poorest girls and adolescents who face a greater risk of early and forced marriage, sexual abuse and unintended pregnancy during emergencies.

The report recommends that people at risk or survivors of sexual and gender-based-violence (SGBV) should be supported instead of being further put at risk when curfews are implemented.

It also pointed out that there is a need for governments to expand the capacity of shelters for victims of violence by re-purposing other spaces, such as empty hotels, or education institutions and to accommodate quarantine needs.

There is also a need for facilities where women can report abuse without fear or harm.

“The impact of measures to curb Covid-19 is bound to disproportionately affect certain groups, including victims and survivors of domestic violence, homeless women, older women, women and girls with disabilities, and women and girls living with HIV.

“Women and girls who are deprived of their liberty, displaced, refugees, asylum seekers, migrants and those living in conflict affected areas are particularly at risk during the Covid-19 emergency,” the report states.

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