To fight the current COVID-19 pandemic, goverments have determined home confinement as one of the main measures to stop the spread of the virus and reduce the risk of transmission. This, however, has, unfortunately, increased the risk for women and girls to suffer immediate violence from the people they share their homes with.
In the framework of the Spotlight Initiative, the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Ms. Ghada Waly, is one of 10 heads of UN agencies who called for men's attention to raise their voices and support actions to fight and prevent the incidence of gender-based violence in all parts of the world.
Ms. Waly is joining the message of UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, in urging the Member States to focus their efforts on overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic while adopting a gender-sensitive approach.
Several countries have indeed registered an increase in domestic violence cases, as well as an important reduction in the capacity to respond from local authorities and aid services for women and girls. Both civil society and non-governmental organizations have publicly denounced this problem and have offered various strategies to combat it.
As part of the Spotlight Initiative, for e.g. in Mexico, UNODC is leading efforts to improve the quality of victim services and enhance data collection and analysis by local governments. In Kyrgyzstan, UNODC is strengthening the capacities of justice and security institutions, supporting referral mechanisms for victims of gender-based violence and the national women’s rights movement to address SGBV and women’s rights.
UNODC offers specialized assistance in strengthening crime prevention and criminal justice system responses to violence against women. The Office is currently assisting 17 countries, providing legislative and policy support and developing the capacity of criminal justice systems to more effectively prevent, investigate, prosecute and punish related crimes, to provide access to legal aid and to empower and protect victims, survivors and witnesses.
Spotlight is an inter-agency iniative implemented by the United Nations and financed by the European Union, aimed at eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls around the world. Depending on the local dynamics, the efforts are directed to approach issues and challenges limiting the full realization of women and girls' human rights, such as domestic violence, human trafficking, genital mutilation, sexual or economic exploitation and also feminicide violence, understood as the ultimate expression of gender-based violence.