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Gender-Based Violence and COVID-19: Actions, Gaps and the Way Forward

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We know that gender-based violence (GBV), sexual exploitation and abuse increase in times of crisis and fragility. Humanitarian and health crises disproportionately impact women and girls.

Emerging data on gender-based violence (GBV) and COVID-19 show a sharp increase in violence against women and girls (VAWG). Globally, there has been a 30 per cent increase in reported cases of GBV. However, evidence suggests that in some contexts, fewer cases are reported than occur. These numbers need to be interpreted with caution as they may be the result of a combination of issues that include: girls and women stuck at home with their perpetrator and unable to reach out for help; girls and women who may not have their own phones or Internet access; and girls and women who may not be able to find a private space to speak/ask for help openly.

UNFPA’s latest projections indicate that: 31 million additional cases of gender-based violence 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.

Due to the disruption of programmes to prevent female genital mutilation (FGM), in response to COVID-19, 2 million FGM cases that could have been averted, may occur over the next decade. COVID-19 will disrupt efforts to end child marriage, potentially resulting in an additional 13 million child marriages taking place between 2020 and 2030.

The pandemic has also seen a shift in reporting from the use of hotlines to WhatsApp/ChatBox, Skype, and other social media platform. As a result, there has been under-reporting but also a surge in new reporting methods for GBV cases during the lockdown period