Southern Africa: Annual 16 Days of Activism - Covid Pandemic Pushes Abused Women and Children Deeper Into Crisis

opinion

Gender-based violence does not just occur during conflicts, in overcrowded camps or in marginalised communities. It is perpetrated by men and boys around the world - with impunity. They have to be part of the solution to fight violence against women.

When crises strike, violence against women - especially intimate partner violence - tends to increase. The Covid-19 pandemic has confirmed this predicament. Pandemic-control measures have left women, including refugees and those displaced, isolated and even more heavily burdened by family responsibilities, and have limited their access to help and services, including reproductive health.

Unintended pregnancies could rise by as much as 7 million worldwide, while, as economies shut down, a little known and damaging consequence of the pandemic is a spike in child marriages globally. Refugee and displaced women working in the informal sector have also been most harshly affected by the economic downturn and movement restrictions.

In refugee communities in southern Africa, the UNHCR, also known as the UN Refugee Agency, has supported water, sanitation and health services, provided information to avoid contagion in crowded camps and ensured support for women and other vulnerable refugees, especially children, continued. All work by the UN Refugee Agency had to be...

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