An article by UN News explains that UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called 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. This call also comes after a call for a global ceasefire of all conflicts going on around the world.
- The Secretary-General pointed out that violence is not confined to the battlefield, and that “for many women and girls, the threat looms largest where they should be safest: in their own homes”.
- 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.
- 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.
- Since the pandemic, the UN is reporting that Lebanon and Malaysia, for example, have seen the number of calls to helplines double, compared with the same month last year; in China they have tripled; and in Australia, search engines such as Google are seeing the highest magnitude of searches for domestic violence help in the past five years.
- Responding to the rise in violence is further complicated by the fact the institutions are already under a huge strain from the demands of dealing with the pandemic.
- The UN chief urged all governments to make the prevention and redress of violence against women a key part of their national response plans for COVID-19, and outlined several actions that can be taken to improve the situation (see image below).
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