This Guidance Note aims to provide points to be considered for ensuring GBV service provision in the time of COVID-19 with its heightened risks.
GBV partners are strongly recommended to regularly check the following websites for timely updates on the current situation:
● WHO Coronavirus disease (COVID-2019) situation reports: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports/
● Myanmar Ministry of Health and Sports COVID-19 Surveillance Dashboard: http://mohs.gov.mm/Main/content/publication/2019-ncov
● Myanmar Information Management Unit (MIMU) COVID-19 site: https://themimu.info/emergencies/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19
As in any other emergency situation, it is expected that vulnerabilities of women and girls would increase with the outbreak of COVID-19, which would further lead to the increased GBV risks.
Experiences have demonstrated that where women are primarily responsible for procuring and cooking food for the family, increasing food insecurity as a result of the crises may place them at heightened risk, for example, of intimate partner and other forms of domestic violence due to heightened tensions in the household. Women generally play a role of care-giver in the family and in the communities, and there may be additional burdens on them during the crisis period.
Because of their role as care-giver, vulnerabilities of women and girls may further exacerbate in terms of the risk of COVID-19 infection.
Other forms of GBV are also exacerbated in crisis contexts. For example, the economic impacts of the 2013-2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, placed women and children at greater risk of exploitation and sexual violence. In addition, life-saving care and support to GBV survivors (i.e. clinical management of rape and mental health and psycho-social support) may be disrupted when health service providers are overburdened and preoccupied with handling COVID-19 cases.
Evidence from past epidemics, including Ebola and Zika, indicate that efforts to contain outbreaks often divert resources from routine health services including pre- and post-natal health care and contraceptives, and exacerbate often already limited access to sexual and reproductive health services. Adolescents have particular needs in this regard. Furthermore, critical needs include access to clean and safe delivery, particularly for treatment in complications in pregnancy, treatment of STIs, availability of contraception, and provisions for clinical management of rape.