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Covid-19 Pandemic: The Rise of Gender-based Violence

Gender-based violence has always been a pertinent legal and social problem in society. However, incidences of gender-based violence- including rape, Female Genital Mutilation, child marriage and domestic violence- have increased significantly during the Covid-19 pandemic. This is largely attributed to restrictions on movement, like quarantine and lockdown measures; as such situations force vulnerable people to share spaces with their aggressors. This violence has largely been targeted towards women and girls; especially in cases like intimate partner violence. Realizing the continuous danger to women’s lives, it’s therefore prudent for countries and organizations to increase awareness and knowledge against GBV, create helplines and online support against GBV, and empower women financially.
Eradicating Violence Against Women

As described in an article by Thomson Reuters Foundation, stress from the Covid-19 pandemic, coupled with the boredom associated with social restrictions have been root causes for gender-based violence, especially against women. Anxiety and depression among alcohol and drug users, owing to the reduced supply due to business closures has also led to more aggressive behaviors in persons with dysfunctional personality traits. As pointed out in a publication by UNDP, “…Many women are in ‘lockdown’ at home with their abusers while being cut off from normal support services.”

Besides, the measures taken over the past few months to combat Covid-19 have radically transformed daily human functioning and behaviors. Social distancing requirements, the loss of freedom, closure of schools and businesses, economic uncertainty and vulnerability, and loss of income have significantly affected the usual way of life. Besides, in many countries worldwide, people have been told to stay at home to reduce the transmission of Covid-19; providing an opportunity for targeted violence against women and girls. Besides, it is well known that most violence perpetuated against women and girls is often carried out by close family members, and in times of crisis as this, the number of cases tends to increase.

GBV has serious ramifications for women and girls, especially at a vulnerable time like now. Here in Kenya, there has been a sharp spike in FGM practice; with various sources remarking that the pandemic has threatened the country’s fight against the vile practice. As elaborated in another piece, “…Girls are not going to school, they are just sitting at home. Some are coming of age. Parents are facing an uncertain future due to loss of income caused by the coronavirus, so they are having the girls cut and will marry them off…” Worse still, the number of teen pregnancies has spiked greatly during this period; with some statistics pointing that there are as much as 4000 pregnant teens in one county alone. These are young girls whose innocence and futures have been destroyed. As highlighted in another piece, “…Salome noted most of these cases are as a result of defilement by close family members…” Besides, some of these girls have been infected with terminal illnesses, like HIV/AIDS, by their abusers, thus leading to more problems. For others, the psychological and mental torture of enduring continuous abuse and targeted violence has led to mental health problems.

Way Forward
Targeted violence against women and girls threatens the fabric of the society. It leads to a socially and economically bankrupt society, and spells a bleak future for women and girls. It is therefore prudent for countries and organizations to take effective measures against this vice; especially at a vulnerable period like now. This includes:
  • • Sensitizing and creating awareness against GBV by using outlets like social media, radio, and messaging platforms
  • • Empowering women and girls financially. As research indicates that economically vulnerable women are more susceptible to violence, empowerment programs for women and girls should be a priority.
  • • Free SGBV helplines and online support. Women and girls should be granted the chance to report any real or perceived incidences of gender-based violence.
  • • The writer is an MA student at the African Women Studies Center (AWSC), University of Nairobi.
Comments (4)
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Jean Corvin
22 Aqust 2020

It is a long established fact that a reader will be distracted by the readable content of a page when looking at its layout.

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Eduardo Dutra
25 Aqust 2020

It is a long established fact that a reader will be distracted by the readable content of a page when looking at its layout.

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George Patrick
Aqust 15 2019

It is a long established fact that a reader will be distracted by the readable content of a page when looking at its layout.

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