Pandemic sees rise in gender-based violence — Oxfam

3. Oxfam
(Illustration: Oxfam)
AMMAN — A new Oxfam report shows an increase in gender-based violence (GBV) during the COVID-19 pandemic around the world, the nonprofit announced in a press statement Wednesday.اضافة اعلان

The report, “The Ignored Pandemic: The Dual Crisis of Gender-Based Violence and COVID-19”, showed the number of calls made by survivors to domestic violence hotlines in 10 countries during the first months of lockdown, including Jordan.

The data reveals a 25–111 percentage surge; in Argentina 25 percent, Colombia 79 percent, Tunisia 43 percent, China 50 percent, Somalia 50 percent, South Africa 69 percent, UK 25 percent, Cyprus 39 percent, Italy 73 percent and the largest increase in Malaysia where calls surged by over 111 percent.

In Jordan, calls to the Family Protection Unit concerning domestic violence rose by 33 percent in the first months of lockdown. Of all calls to the Family Protection Unit in 2020, close to 60 percent reported physical violence while 34 percent reported sexual violence.

In many households, COVID-19 created a “perfect storm” of social and personal anxiety, stress, economic pressure, social isolation, including with abusive family members or partners, and rising alcohol and substance use, resulting in increases in domestic abuse.

The report shows that not enough countries have acted with sufficient seriousness to tackle the GBV pandemic. Even before the surge in GBV cases was sparked by the pandemic, in 2018 alone, over 245 million women and girls were subjected to sexual or physical violence by an intimate partner — a greater number than the global total of coronavirus cases (199 million) between October 2020 and October 2021.

Even though 146 UN member states have formally declared their support for action against GBV in their COVID-19 response and recovery plans, only a handful have followed through. Of the $26.7 trillion that governments and donors mobilized to respond to the pandemic in 2020, just 0.0002 percent has gone into combating GBV.

“Girls and women have faced two pandemics over the past year. Gender-based violence is pervasive but it is preventable; addressing violence against women and girls must be part of national recovery plans to avoid losing gains in women’s rights and gender equality made over the past 30 years,” said Oxfam in Jordan Country Director Nivedita Monga.

The 16 Days of Activism against GBV that commenced Thursday until December 10 provides an opportunity for governments, donors, and activists to reflect on the emerging issues of inequality that put women and girls at risk and address them urgently, according to the statement.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that governments can take extraordinary measures to protect their citizens and respond to deadly crises when spurred to action. We need to see similar levels of alacrity to tackle gender-based violence.

“Oxfam in Jordan is committed to supporting our local partners to end this crisis and to ensure women have equitable legal protections and access to resources. COVID-19 has deepened gender gaps in the economy, and women’s economic insecurity increases their vulnerability to violence at home. Women in Jordan are a potential powerhouse who could reshape the country’s economy; they must be given the opportunities to do so,” Monga said.

Oxfam recommended that states and governments ensure a more coordinated, comprehensive, and multi-sectoral GBV response that enables survivors to access effective and quality services. Governments and donors should channel more funding to women's rights organizations and feminist movements working to end GBV and support survivors. Additionally, more funding should be allocated to better data collection and analysis of gender-disaggregated national statistics to inform evidence-based interventions to end GBV.

"As the world comes together to mark 30 years of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, there is an urgent need for a truly gendered approach in every country’s effort to respond to and recover from COVID-19.

Governments and donors need to live up to their commitments to promote gender equality by ensuring investment in all the areas we know could help end GBV. Only by doing so can we strive for a future that is more just, safe, and in which people live free from discrimination," said Oxfam International Executive Director Gabriela Bucher.

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