UN Secretary-General António Guterres called Sunday for a “ceasefire” in domestic violence, after a recent surge following global COVID-19 lockdowns.
“Peace is not just the absence of war. Many women under lockdown for COVID-19 face violence where they should be safest: in their own homes,” Guterres tweeted. “I urge all governments to put women’s safety first as they respond to the pandemic.”
According to research conducted by the World Health Organization, the combination of recent economic and social stress has led to the drastic domestic violence surge. The WHO reports that this effect is seen in almost all countries.
Before COVID-19, the WHO reported that approximately 1 in every 3 women globally experienced some form of violence in their lives. In the US, 1 in every 4 female college students reported experiencing sexual assault or misconduct. In part of sub-Saharan Africa, domestic violence affects more than 3 out of 5 women. During the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, those numbers have spiked.
Of the 87,000 women intentionally killed in 2017, more than half were killed by intimate partners of family members. The WHO also reported in its study that a women of reproductive age is as likely to die from domestic violence as she is from cancer, and is more likely to suffer serious health effects from domestic violence than traffic accidents and malaria combined.
However, the WHO notes that this violence reverberates in other ways. Women who experience domestic violence are twice as likely to have an abortion, and also doubles the likelihood of experiencing depression. In some countries, these women are 1.5 times more likely to acquire HIV, and 2.3 times more likely to have alcohol disorders.
“Together, we can and must prevent violence everywhere, from war zones to people’s homes, as we work to beat COVID-19,” Guterres urged.
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