UNHCR: COVID-19 pandemic partly responsible for increase in violence against women

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The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated gender-based violence, as women and girls remain stuck with abusive partners due to the massive loss of jobs in the duration, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, warned on Wednesday.

His remarks came as the world marked the 2020 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

“We are receiving alarming reports of sharp increases in the risks of gender-based violence, including intimate partner violence, trafficking, sexual exploitation, and child marriages,” he said.

“Jobs have been lost, tensions are rising, intimate partner violence is escalating, livelihood opportunities are scarce and movement restrictions are making it difficult for survivors to report abuse and seek help.”

The UNCHR reports that in North-West and South-West Cameroon, a staggering 26 per cent of gender-based violence incidents logged since the onset of the pandemic relate to children.

In the Central African Republic, where a quarter of the population is displaced, one gender-based violence incident is recorded every hour.

The situation has also affected refugees, displaced and stateless women and girls.

The UNHCR noted that addressing gender-based violence requires a concerted response involving national authorities, humanitarian partners, civil society and forcibly displaced women, girls, men and boys themselves.

The agency urged donors to continue offering support to preserve and boost essential prevention and response services.