The "International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women" is celebrated on November 25, a date on which human rights defenders recall that statistics on gender violence have increased because of the restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
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According to UN Women, the confinement led to an increase in complaints about domestic violence in Cyprus (30%), France (30%), and Argentina (25%). Rape exploded in Nigeria and South Africa, disappearances of women increased in Peru, and femicides rose sharply in Brazil and Mexico.
Victims of gender violence have lost places of refuge because of the partial operation of institutions, businesses, churches, or schools. In all countries, women and children are trapped in unsafe homes.
"We are witnessing a dangerous deterioration in the families' socio-economic situation after the confinement, with more cases of poverty, which can provoke violent reactions," the Iraqi Women's Network activist Hanaa Edwar highlights.
The Brazilian Public Security Forum (FBSP) showed that Brazil registered 648 femicides in the first half of 2020, a figure which represents a 1.9 percent increase in comparison to the same period of 2019.
According to UN Women, only 1 out of 8 countries has taken measures to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on women and children. Despite the difficulties for collective actions in public spaces, citizens have demonstrated in favor of women's rights in Namibia, Liberia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, or Romania.
"Wherever you look, there are inequalities. In employment, in the wage gap, in sexist violence. Everything increases even more in the time of COVID-19," South Africa's Gender Equality Commission Chairperson Tamara Mathebula recalled.
In the long term, the consequences of the coronavirus on women's rights can be very serious. In July, the UN agencies warned that six months of COVID-19 related restrictions could lead to 31 million additional cases of sexist violence and seven million unwanted pregnancies.
Human rights defenders also fear that the pandemic will put the fight against female genital mutilation and arranged marriages at risk.