UN and regional experts on violence against women and women's rights have called on all States to seize the opportunity to ‘build back better’ by reinforcing and expanding efforts they have already made to promote and protect the rights of women in all spheres of life.
The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked a pandemic of gender-based violence and discrimination against women that requires urgent action, say the expert noting that the world struggles to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.They said urgent steps must be taken to combat this pandemic within a pandemic, according to a statement issued from Geneva on Tuesday.
As countries imposed lockdowns to fight the health pandemic, the world saw “dramatic increases in cases of domestic violence, including violence by intimate partners, sexual violence and femicide,” the seven experts said today in a joint statement.
The experts are Dubravka Šimonovic, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences; Hilary Gbedemah Chairperson of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women; Elizabeth Broderick, Chair of the UN Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice; Marceline Naudi, President of the Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence of the Council of Europe (GREVIO); Margarette May Macaulay, Inter-American Commission on Human Right's Rapporteur for Women's Rights; Lucy Asuagbor, Special Rapporteur on Rights of Women in Africa; and Tatiana Rein Venegas, President of the Committee of Experts of the Follow-up Mechanism to the Belém do Pará Convention.
“The global response to the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted existing gaps and deep-rooted gender-based discrimination,” they said.
“Fewer police interventions and the closure of courts, shelters and essential services for victims have emboldened perpetrators and aggravated risks faced by women and girls.”
They also said restrictions on the provision of health and reproductive health services, increased domestic and unpaid care responsibilities, and the burden of providing for the basic needs of family life were taking an additional on both the physical and mental wellbeing of women everywhere.“The closure of schools poses an additional problem, with millions of girls being kept at home, heightening the risk of sexual exploitation, early pregnancies, rape, early marriages, forced marriages and female genital mutilation,” they said.