Photo: The Thought Catalogue

XINHUA

Governments across the world must act urgently to prevent and tackle the rising rates of violence against women and girls during the covid-19 crisis, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said Friday, May 22.

The UNDP said that, given a rise in femicides and assaults on women, all governments must how put “stronger measures in place,” such as designating shelters and hotlines as emergency services and supporting police and the justice sector during lockdowns to better protect women and girls.

In the face of increased gender-based violence and the covid-19 pandemic, the UNDP recommended developing new protocols to provide support to victims via phone or online platforms rather than in person, expanding immediate response services in order to save lives and ensuring that steps to prevent such violence are incorporated into every covid-19 response plan and budget.

“Now more than ever, there is a need to send a strong message that violence will not be tolerated, and that those who carry it out will be brought to justice and survivors will be heard and supported,” said Raquel Lagunas, acting director of the UNDP gender team.

The impacts of the covid-19 on women and girls include rising rates of domestic or intimate partner violence.

Moreover, lockdowns and social distancing can be particularly hard on survivors of gender-based violence, who may already be economically dependent on their abusers.

Together with other UN agencies, UNDP is working with more than 40 governments around the world to prevent and address gender-based violence during the crisis.

UNDP said that, around the world, it is supporting communities to develop neighborhood watch systems, where men and women receive training to regularly patrol their neighborhood to prevent or mitigate incidents of violence.

In Mexico UNDP, in collaboration with UN Women, is helping to establish phone and online platforms to support vulnerable women via the Luna centers, which offer safe spaces for women and girls.

In Mexico, the incidence of violence against women has continued to rise.

While the country’s leftist president, Andres Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), declared earlier this month that at least 90 percent of femicides are, in fact, “fake news,” last year gender-based murders claimed the lives of 3,825 women according to the government’s own statistics.

That figures works out to about 10 or 11 women being killed each day, compared to six a day in 2016.

And according to the National Institute of Women (Inmujeres), during the first four months of this year, there were at least 22 million 911 calls by women asking for help due to gender-related abuse.

Globally, the UNDP multi-year initiative is targeting 50 million direct beneficiaries across five regions and more than 25 countries.

…May 23, 2020

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