Globally, countries are fighting a common enemy, the coronavirus, which has affected livelihoods in the past few months. As people all over the world stay home during this pandemic, it is alarming to know that domestic violence cases have been on the increase. Recent reports from some countries like Bangladesh, USA, Australia, Cyprus, Brazil, Italy, just to mention a few have attested to the high increase of domestic violence cases and increase in the number of calls to helplines during this period.
According to the World Health Organization, 1 out of 3 women experience gender-based violence in their lifetime. 35% of women worldwide have experienced physical and /or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence. Globally 7% of women have been sexually assaulted by someone other than their partner. During this period where the majority of people are home due to the pandemic, it is important that people who are vulnerable to domestic violence are helped to fight against gender-based violence.
On thursday 30th April 2020, we had a twitter chat on the topic “Fighting gender-based violence at home during the COVID-19 Pandemic”. Our guest was Mr. Samuel Quaye, a youth and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights advocate and also a member of Curious Minds.
He stated that gender-based violence means harm inflicted upon individuals and groups (physical, emotional or otherwise) that stems from wrong notions regarding their gender.
He listed some forms of gender-based violence as rape, beating, emotional abuse, just to mention a few. Samuel went on to explain that the progress made in fighting gender-based violence has not been encouraging over the years, the reason for this is that most victims do not report their abuse, some do not know the right procedures in seeking help after their ordeal and society’s stigmatization of victims of abuse.
Social distancing though an important measure in keeping safe during this pandemic, has placed the vulnerable at the mercy of perpetrators of domestic violence. This we say against this backdrop that most victims of gender-based violence are often abused by people they live with under the same roof.
According to Mr. Quaye, victims of abuse should not keep silent. They need to report to institutions like DOVVSU, close friends and family via phone calls or texts or report to a police station in the vicinity during this period. The fight against gender-based violence is a global one. UNFPA Ghana recently reported that six months of lockdown will result in an additional 31million cases of gender-based violence. Hence, it is prudent for victims to seek help. Samuel also indicated that getting help from professional counselors is important. He highlighted some helplines through which victims or individuals can call to receive help to fight gender based violence in Ghana. These are:
DOVVSU of the Ghana Police Service – 055-1000-900
Copash Ghana – 0302746746
UNICEF Ghana- AGOO 5100 call line
He also mentioned some organizations that could be of help to anyone who reached out to them. Some of them are, Women Deliver , Youth Deliver, Curious Minds , Dance for Life International and Psychaid Love .
In his conclusion he stated:
“I believe we can win the fight against #GBV if we begin from the root.
When young ones are taught to respect and tolerate everyone for their personal views, we’ll make certain headway. Negative Socio-culturally entrenched views must be overcome”.
Gender-based violence is a global issue. We must be each other’s keeper in pointing out abuse and seeking the well-being of victims. We must all get involved to minimize the menace of gender-based violence.
Google in this year, has also recorded 78% increase in the search for help in fighting domestic violence.