Gender Based Violence in Africa during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, emerging reports have shown that several types of violence against women and girls have intensified. Although COVID-19 pandemic is claiming the lives of many, the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on women and girls’ socio-economic welfare is threatening to reverse the hard-won gains in advancing gender equality and women's empowerment. In Africa too, there have been reports of abuse such as intimate partner violence, sexual harassment, child marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM), domestic and sexual abuse of women and girls which are exacerbated particularly under lockdowns. In addition, with online learning, cases of online abuse, harassment and exploitation of children have been on the increase. However, the dearth of well documented gender data remains a key challenge towards the roll out of comprehensive and systematic Gender Based Violence (GBV) and COVID-19 response and recovery efforts in AU Member States.
Against this backdrop, the policy paper summarises published, grey literature and media reports on the rise of GBV as an aspect of the COVID-19 pandemic and lock downs in Africa. The paper documents the sharp increases in GBV outlining the consequences, emerging priorities, promising practices and highlight their potential to effectively support and protect women and girls from gender based violence as a standard part of response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the Africa region. The paper also outlines some practical evidence-based recommendations to AU Member States and other stakeholders to ensure actions against GBV are mainstreamed in their COVID-19 response and recovery activities.