Commenting on the increased risk of domestic violence due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Lee Margaret Webster, Deputy Director of International Development Policy and Practice at ActionAid UK says:
“One in three women worldwide will experience violence in their lifetime, most likely at the hands of a male partner or close family member. During an epidemic women can face an even higher risk of domestic violence.
“We are very concerned for the many women and girls living in poor communities with no financial independence, who are forced to stay at home with their abuser. Furthermore, cases of domestic violence will be higher in marginalised communities where existing inequalities between women and men have already put many women and girls at high risk of violence.
“It is therefore crucial that women and girls around the world are able to report cases of domestic violence during the pandemic and access the support they need. This is why ActionAid is working in partnership with local women’s groups and women’s rights organisations who have a strong understanding of their communities and are best placed to reach out to the most marginalised women and girls, assess their protection concerns and mobilise responses. Many are adjusting their support mechanisms to respond to the evolving situation, and make sure women and girls experiencing abuse at home have somewhere to turn to.
“Local women in the global south were the first responders to Ebola and they cared for the sick in the first crushing waves of the HIV epidemic – when disaster strikes, they pick up the pieces for their families and communities. We need to listen to them now and ensure their voices are heard in shaping global and local responses to COVID-19 so that women’s protection is prioritised and support services are funded accordingly.”
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