Gender-based violence is an epidemic. Indeed, one in three women worldwide experiences physical or sexual abuse in her lifetime. But for displaced women and girls, that threat is even higher. And now the realities of COVID-19 pandemic—including lockdowns, border closures, and economic desperation—have increased the risk that displaced women and girls have of experiencing various types of gender-based violence (GBV).
But more can and must be done to confront this threat. Donors must increase support for local and community-based programming for displaced women and girls, especially in places where international organizations may not have access given COVID-19-related movement restrictions. And efforts must be made to expand safe and legal pathways for people fleeing conflict, persecution, and disasters to enter transit and host countries, with screening mechanisms in place to ensure that the health status of new arrivals do not put anyone at risk of contracting COVID-19.
Today, Refugees International is launching, “Exacerbating the Other Epidemic: How COVID-19 is Increasing Violence against Displaced Women and Girls.” The report details the ways in which displaced women and girls are facing an increased threat of GBV amid the pandemic, and highlights creative solutions and steps governments, donors, and communities must take to combat GBV and account for the needs of displaced women and girls, particularly amid the COVID-19 response.