Gender based violence services must continue amid COVID-19 — UNFPA

By Lameck Kwalimba, MANA

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) says services on gender based violence (GBV) should continue operating amid the COVID-19 pandemic to save girls and women from the vice.

The UN agency’s Resident Representative, Young Hong was speaking in Lilongwe on Wednesday when she handed over 60 motorbikes and 940 bicycles (including spareparts) to Ministry of Gender, Child and Community Development to be used to enhance provision of GBV services.

Wong presents the bikes to Minister Navicha

The donation, worth US$284,000 (over MK209 million), will especially enhance out-reach programs to girls and women, who are usually the most affected — especially during outbreaks.

“Gender based violence requires mobility of the service provider to reach out to those women and girls affected by the virus,” Hong said.

The motorbikes

“So it’s difficult in the rural areas for women and girls to reach to those service providers while the service providers also need to have means to travel to reach out to those girls and women. 

“That’s why these bicycles and motorbikes are handed over today to be used by the frontline service providers to be able to serve girls and women against GBV,” she said.

In April, a UK-based media outlet, The Guardian reported that UK had registered 120 percent increase in incidents of domestic violence since COVID-19 lockdowns started.

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South Africa’s Times, an online news outlet, also reported that police received 87,000 complaints related to GBV in just the first seven days of lockdown.

UNFPA’S donation of motorbikes and bicycles and spare parts to the Gender Ministry is with support from European Union (EU), through the Spotlight Initiative — whose aim is to eliminate gender based violence.

According to Hong, the expectation is that the donation will help service providers reach out to 2.8 million affected women, girls, men and boys directly and 8.2 million indirectly.

Coronavirus alert

On her part, Minister of Gender, Child and Community Development, Mary Navicha said the donation is timely as government is fighting the Coronavirus pandemic.

“My ministry is leading a social protection structure in a committee of COVID-19 presidential taskforce and we have several programs including fighting for women and girls, persons with disability and other vulnerable groups.

“So, this donation will really assist our cluster,” said the Minister.