Pandemic-related lockdowns have increased the risk of violence against women and girls. Many governments have made more resources available for survivors as part of their pandemic response efforts, but this aid can do little to prevent future violence without programs to address its root causes. .
CAMBRIDGE – Violence against women and girls increases during times of crisis. It is therefore not surprising that COVID-19 has increased the risk of gender-based violence. Even before the pandemic, one in three women worldwide reported having experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner. But, by confining women at home with their abusers, pandemic-related lockdowns have increased their exposure to violence. Lockdowns have also contributed to economic stress and reduced women’s access to resources and support systems that help them escape abusive relationships.
In April 2020, UN Secretary General António Guterres called for action to address gender-based violence during the pandemic. This call was supported by 146 countries. In the same month, the United Nations Population Fund estimated that every three months of lockdown would result in 15 million additional cases of violence against women and girls.
Eighteen months later, there is evidence that governments have answered Guterres’ call. Data tracked by the United Nations Development Program shows that out of 4,968 policy measures related to COVID-19, 853 focused on violence against women. In the United States, for example, millions of dollars in pandemic relief spending are being directed to bolstering urgently needed resources — such as shelters, psychological services and housing assistance — that meet the needs. immediate contact with women who are victims of violence.
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