UN: during Covid-19 more support needed for victims of sexual violence

A female internally displaced person in North Darfur is worried over the increase in rapes in the area A female internally displaced person in North Darfur is worried over the increase in rapes in the area UN Photo/Albert González Farran

19 June 2020

Pandemic worsens conditions of women and girls affected of violence in conflict

19 June marks the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict. Conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) affects not only women and girls, but also men and boys. Due to the restrictions by coronavirus, survivors of the already dramatically under-reported crime face life-threatening challenges as closed shelters, cancelled counselling services and shortages in a range of medical, psychosocial and legal services. When in conflict, civilians might not even have access to those facilities, but, however, must not be left behind. During national lockdowns, the ability of survivors to report incidents is limited and intensifies existing structural, institutional and socio-cultural barriers to reporting the crimes. Additionally, survivors of sexual violence may be less willing to seek help because of perceived risks of contracting COVID-19, fearing infection and potentially transmitting the virus to their families.

Restrictions, which require families to stay at home, have also increased domestic violence and gender-based violence. National service facilities aimed at supporting survivors of violence around the world and the Group of Experts for Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO), the committee of the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, ring the alarm for the safety of women worldwide during lockdown.

2020 marks the 20th anniversary of the Security Council Resolution 1325. In the past 20 years, the Security Council has adopted a solid framework to address conflict-related sexual violence. Combating impunity of CRSV is central when addressing crimes. It is also an essential component for supporting the victims and strengthening their resilience. United Nations Secretary General António Guterres calls out with the words: “We must prevent and end these crimes; place survivors at the centre of our response; hold perpetrators accountable; and expand support for all those affected”.



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Author: Theresa Bender-Säbelkampf

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