Foreign Desk Report
NEW YORK: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that the increase in social and economic pressures brought on by the coronavirus pandemic has led to a global increase in violence against women and girls. The secretary-general, who appealed on March 23 for an immediate cease-fire in conflicts around the world to tackle COVID-19, said in a statement Sunday night it is now time to appeal for an end to all violence, “everywhere, now.”
“Violence is not confined to the battlefield,” he said. “For many women and girls, the threat looms largest where they should be safest – in their own homes. And so I make a new appeal today for peace at home and in homes around the world.” Many countries have reported a surge in domestic violence incidents and calls to abuse hotlines since the pandemic started spreading globally earlier this year.
The combination of economic and social stresses brought on by the pandemic, as well as restrictions on movement, have dramatically increased the numbers of women and girls facing abuse, in almost all countries, the UN chief said. However, even before the global spread of the new coronavirus, statistics showed that a third of women around the world experienced some form of violence in their lives.
The issue affects both developed and poorer economies: nearly a quarter of female college students reported having experienced sexual assault or misconduct in the US, whilst in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, partner violence to be a reality for 65 per cent of women. “I urge all governments to make the prevention and redress of violence against women a key part of their national response plans for COVID-19,” Guterres said of the disease caused by the coronavirus.
He said that includes declaring shelters as essential services, setting up emergency warning systems in pharmacies and grocery stores, declaring shelters essential services.