UN agency calls for inclusion of domestic violence risk in disaster response to COVID-19


Denis McClean

United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction
UN Women poster for the International day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women
November 25 is marked annually as the International day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

GENEVA – Measures to combat domestic violence need to be given attention and addressed by national disaster management agencies, according to a statement issued today by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, Mami Mizutori who is also the head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction.

Ms. Mizutori said: “Women and girls are more affected by disasters generally because of the gender inequality evident in society at large. They die and are injured in greater numbers particularly in extreme weather events. This unfortunate reality has taken a new twist in the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Women and girls trapped in abusive domestic situations are in jeopardy because of the lockdowns and restrictions on their movements imposed by governments to contain the spread of the pandemic.

“I call on all national disaster management agencies to give attention to this urgent issue within their governments so that support to victims of domestic abuse are included in their COVID-19 response plans.  This will save lives and prevent serious injury to many.

“At this time, this means the allocation of adequate funding and careful planning of shelters for women and girls escaping domestic abuse. It also means increasing the level of online support services including help-lines to police and social services. 

“Facilities such as supermarkets and pharmacies that remain open, should be on alert to receive pleas for help from women seeking support without worry that their abusers will be alerted. We need to find safe and creative ways for women to seek support.

“It is clear that health workers and police services are working at full stretch dealing with the consequences of this pandemic, but it is crucially important that they liaise with national disaster management agencies and designated civil society organizations so that necessary support is provided to the increasing number of victims of domestic violence as a result of COVID-19.”

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