The financial, social, and health stressors of a pandemic, combined with close confinement during lockdowns, mean that women and girls are at a higher risk of violence from their family members, domestic partners, or within a community. We saw this happen during the 2014-16 Ebola epidemic in West Africa, with increased incidences of gender-based violence, and fewer resources for women and girls who were experiencing abuse (given the increased demand for healthcare workers in helping to halt the spread of the virus).
Already, we are seeing a similar pattern play out with Covid-19 and cases of gender-based and domestic violence. Emerging data from the UN show increases between 25 and 33% of reports of domestic violence and emergency calls in a handful of countries including France, Cyprus, and Singapore. In more vulnerable communities, such as the informal refugee settlements in Iraq and Lebanon, where women and girls are already more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, these risks are even higher. It’s critical at this time that we include resources on stress and anger management for families and engages men and couples in sessions on the impact of lockdowns and ways to mitigate violence as a negative coping mechanism.