Anadolu Agency compiled World Bank statistics on the occasion of Nov. 25 International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, defining the violence as a “global epidemic” which affects one out of every three women.

Worldwide, 35% of women are subjected to physical and/or sexual violence by their partner, while 38% of women’s murders are carried out by their partner.

An average of 137 women per day are murdered by a family member, while less than 40% of women who suffer violence seek help.

About 49% of human trafficking victims are women, while with the inclusion of young girls, this figure rises to 72%.

Violence against women is also seen in developed countries, beyond developing countries, while it also leads to depression, abortion, and general health problems.

COVID-19 has triggered domestic violence

Laws against domestic violence are already in force in 155 countries worldwide. There are question marks about the compliance with laws in these countries at international standards, along with deficiencies in practices.

The novel coronavirus has also triggered further domestic violence as well as social and economic problems, stressed the UN Women.

It said the rise in domestic violence after COVID-19, which it described as a “shadow pandemic”, was around at least 25%, although it has not yet been fully identified.

Calls to national hotlines for domestic violence rose five-fold in some countries after people started working from home due to isolation policies implemented during the outbreak.

Restriction of movement, social isolation, and economic insecurity caused more vulnerability and domestic violence against women, while most of them were also forced to be isolated in the same house with the perpetrator of the violence.

Also, services provided for women who were subjected to violence were disrupted due to the pandemic.

Job losses higher among women

Also, women are at a higher risk of losing their jobs than men during restrictions and quarantines.

The proportion of women working in the informal economic sector was 60%, and the pandemic led to millions of women losing their jobs and plunging them into poverty.

Often, women undertake the everyday workload and care, also described as “gratuitous care”, of children staying home or older adults in need. And the rate of job loss was higher among women who took on gratuitous care duties.

So COVID-19 deepened both the emotional burden on women and gender segregation.

Women at forefront of health sector

On the other hand, 70% of health workers and 80% of nurses worldwide are women.

Women working at the forefront of the health sector in closer and longer contact with patients has also become an additional risk factor for them.

According to estimates, the proportion of female health workers with COVID-19 infection worldwide is twice that of men.

It is also believed that the economic effects of the pandemic will lead to more women being sexually abused, while economic concerns and difficult living conditions may also cause a rise in the number of “child brides”.

Urgent action needed

While some 48 countries have put in place new measures to combat the “shadow pandemic”, these are considered insufficient, with further urgent measures required.

A multi-stage and multilateral approach should be adopted at the “social level” in combating violence against women, according to the authorities.

It is important to review gender roles and social values on the basis of equality and address the main factors that cause violence.

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially on women, indicate that the progress achieved so far through intensive efforts over many years to combat violence against women may disappear.

* Writing by Merve Berker

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