UN seeks greater cooperation to protect women at risk of violence amid pandemic

 The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is hoping to see greater cooperation between national agencies to protect women from violence, Angela Me, the chief of the agency’s research and trend analysis branch.Me told Sputnik that the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) had turned many “fragile” domestic situations violent.

“What seems to have happened is that situations that were fragile before COVID-19 became much more violent during the pandemic,” Me said.

In November, UNODC researchers claimed that the lockdown measures brought about by the pandemic led to a decrease in some countries in the number of sexual violence or rape cases reported to the authorities.

However, the study found that this trend corresponded with a rise in the number of domestic violence incidents.

Me warned that the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has left millions of people across the world unemployed, could lead to a further rise in domestic violence against women.

“What we have seen around the world is clearly an increase in the frequency of violence, particularly also relating to the situation that pre-existed COVID-19.“But what we will probably see is that COVID-19 … is likely also to make more households more fragile, and that’s where we will probably see the increase in the number of people that are involved in violent situations, probably even in the future,” she said.

In February, UNODC also warned that the COVID-19 pandemic, with its resulting economic downturn, is likely to expose more people, mostly women, to the risk of human trafficking.

At this stage, the UN crime agency is hoping to see greater cooperation between national agencies, including the criminal justice authorities, to ensure that women are protected from both violence and the threat of being trafficked, Me said.

“It’s important that there are coordination and cooperation and it is the same for human trafficking because the trafficked person is a phenomenon that is a combination of vulnerabilities relating to, again, socio-economic vulnerabilities because we see that traffickers really target the most vulnerable victims.“So, it’s important to involve social services, and also the private sector, labor authorities, and of course criminal justice institutions,” the UNODC expert remarked.

The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women has called the intensification of gender-based violence against women seen since the outbreak of COVID-19 the “shadow pandemic.”

In the United Kingdom, law enforcement agencies registered 206,492 cases flagged as domestic abuse-related between March and June 2020, during the country’s first national coronavirus lockdown.This was a nine percent increase from the same period in the preceding year. (Sputnik/NAN)