Must Reads: Rates of Violence Against Women and Girls Continue to Rise Amid Pandemic

In this week’s Must Readsexploring the methods of gathering true and accurate data on domestic violence in South Africa, Save the Children and their efforts in combatting the rise of sexual violence cases in Venezuela, HRW report finds that LGBTQ+ individuals are more likely to face interpersonal violence during the COVID-19 pandemic, how a group of men are helping to end femicide and VAWG in Mexico3 women who fleed Boko Haram now face jail time and charges in suspicion of being a part of the terrorist group and more.

  1. South Africa. Are we collecting the right amount of data during the COVID-19 pandemic to tell us the whole story on the rates of violence against women in households? “Rigorous studies on the impact of pandemics on levels of violence against women and children are scarce. It’s difficult to ensure the safety of women who are asked to respond to questions about their experiences of abuse, so the accuracy of the information gathered is likely to be questionable.” (Relief Web)
  2. Venezuela. Rates of violence against women and children in their households are spiking in Venezuela, a state already facing a destroyed economy and social crisis. Save the Children, a humanitarian aid organization aimed at improving the lives of children worldwide and providing resources to countries hit by devastating emergencies, has reported that “the majority of cases concern sexual violence against children, and psychological and physical violence against women by their partners.” (Vatican News)
  3. Human Rights Campaign report finds that LGBTQ individuals are more likely to face interpersonal violence, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. “To address the high rate of interpersonal violence in the LGBTQ community, which research shows is likely to increase during COVID-19, HRC is calling on Congress to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), originally passed by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton in 1994 and reauthorized by strong bipartisan majorities in 2000, 2005, and 2013.” (Human Rights Campaign)
  4. A group of men who want to end femicide rates and violence against women in Mexico. Arturo Reyes, a psychologist and staff member of Gendes, an organization made to help men stop the campaign of violence against women, has seen the spike in calls for support during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Deutsche Welle)
  5. After crossing the border to Nigeria in 2014, in hopes of a better life, three women from Cameroon decided to go back in search of safety during the height of the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria. Now, they are in limbo, having served over 5 years in jail for being members of the militant group that they tried to escape from. "They were in the wrong place at the wrong time," explains Marie-Lina Samuel, Africa Project Coordinator at the organisation ECPM (Together Against the Death Penalty).” (RFI)

IN FOCUS - NIGERIA: 

Dr. Anita Kemi DaSilva-Ibru, a gynecologist who works at The Women at Risk International Foundation, a rape crisis center in Lagos, Nigeria, talks on the concerning rates of rape and violence against women in Nigeria and the difficulties that women and girls face as they have to shelter in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Violence against women and girls is one of the most pervasive forms of a human rights violation and should be recognized by all countries," DaSilva-Ibru said.” (CNN)

Damboa. Ten Nigerian soldiers killed by Boko Haram insurgents near Damboa, a town in Nigeria’s Borno State. (Sahara Reporters)

Jihadists in NE Nigeria kill 11, others missing. (Ahram Online)

Rape as another pandemic (Guardian NG)


Must Reads: Demanding Systems Change for Women and Girls

In this week’s Must Reads: South African activists and women are calling for an end to domestic violence after three women are found dead. Amina Mohammed addresses boys and men to be a part of ending violence against women and girls in their homes and communities. Protests grow as a 5-year old girl is raped and murdered in Sierra Leone and uncertainty lies for her justice. UN Peacekeeping examines how the COVID-19 pandemic has seen exacerbated rates of domestic and sexual violence in conflict-ridden zones. Twitter developing a resource system for domestic abuse survivors in Asia and the Pacific.

  1. South Africa. 3 women killed in South Africa, highlighting the other pandemic that the country has faced: femicide and domestic violence. Women rights activists and officials are calling for greater transparency and accountability throughout all tiers of society, in order to combat domestic violence. (CNN)
  2. UN Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, calls on men and boys to stop violence against women and girls, especially with the surges of abuse cases during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Men and boys — I am talking to you:  This is on you. Take responsibility. Speak up. Stand with women and girls.” (UN News)
  3. Examining the actions of human evil, dive into the behavioral elements of the mass shooter responsible for Nova Scotia’s mass shootings back in April and how his abuses towards his female partner prior to the shooting were warning signs to his atrocious acts. “It needs to acknowledge there are those who live, work, play, and volunteer among us who intentionally commit acts of human evil within relationships and within communities.” (The Nova Scotia Advocate)
  4. A 5-year old girl, Kadija, was raped and murdered in Sierra Leone. Hundreds protested in hopes for gaining justice for Kadija and creating lasting change in regards to how Sierra Leone handles sexual abuse cases and holds perpetrators accountable in its judicial system. (Amnesty International)
  5. UN Peacekeeping on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected and seen rises in conflict related sexual violence across the world. Lockdowns, quarantines and restrictions on overall activity has limited safe access and support for survivors of sexual violence - especially those in conflict zones. While practicing safe public health measures, it's also vital to make sure that those in vulnerable and conflict-ridden places are moved into safer spaces. (Medium)

Additional Reading: 

  • Twitter partners up with UN Women to create access to helpline services on the platform for domestic abuse survivors in Asia and the Pacific, due to surges of domestic abuse cases and lack of resources during this time. “As lockdowns and stay-at-home orders are being prolonged by countries around the world to contain the spread of COVID-19, women with violent partners increasingly find themselves isolated from the people and resources that can help them. Connecting women who are feeling fearful or in danger is critical for their safety.” (UN Women)

ALSO: 

  • WATCH: New York Times journalist, Farnaz Fassihi, and women’s rights activist, Gabriela Jauregui, discuss the shadow pandemic of domestic violence and the spike in cases specifically in Iran and Mexico. (CNN)
  • Thursdays in Black Toolkit: Resources compiled by the World Council of Churches to raise awareness about gender-based violences and how you can help through action, education and prayer! (World Council of Churches)
  • TUNE IN: The 1st Annual Rotary Peace Fellowship Alumni Association's Global Cyber Peace Conference this Saturday, June 27th, 2020! This event will be a dynamic and interactive online experience featuring speakers and attendees from around the globe working collaboratively together from their own homes. The year’s theme is “Envisioning the World after The Great Pause”. More information on the event and registration: Rotary Peace Fellowship. Use this link to confirm what time sessions are in your location: https://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html
    • Registration is free with this code: ACCESSPEACE
    • Indrani Goradia, founder of RAFT, which provides training to advocates in sexual and domestic violence shelters, will be a speaker during the Opening Plenary Session on Saturday @ 8:45AM EDT. Her topic is: Inspirational Storytelling.

Dr. Eleanor Nwadinobi, our founding Steering Committee Co-Chair, will be a speaker in the Gender and Peace Session @ 11:30 am CET to 1:00 pm CET. Her topic is: Women Peace and Security in the Context of the Boko Haram Conflict (Envisioning the future). Additional speakers in this session include: Dr. Louise Olsson, Senior Researcher and Coordinator of the PRIO, and more. For additional information and registration, visit: http://rpfaa.org/global-cyber-peace-conference/


Must Reads: African Union, UN Human Rights Council Address Police Brutality and Black Lives Matter Movement

In this week’s Must Reads: COVID-19 Pandemic Cannot Distract Us From The Urgent Need To Eliminate Sexual Violence In Conflict. Giving Voice to Alaska’s Unheard Sexual Assault Survivors. Citing ‘weight of history’, senior UN officials of African descent issue call to ‘go beyond and do more’ to end racism. Dr. Eleanor Nwadinobi Responds To AU Call For End To Police Brutality. 'Like I'm in a cage': Domestic workers trapped and abused in lockdown London. Wartime sexual violence survivors: Bosnia and Herzegovina’s forgotten ones.

  1. From the UN: “COVID-19 hampers the possibility of survivors to report sexual violence and further exacerbates the existing structural, institutional and sociocultural barriers to reporting such crimes.” Ensuring justice for the victims and survivors will empower them to move on with their lives and to build a future that is not grounded in the stigma of the atrocities they have been subjected to. Survivors must feel empowered to speak up and to speak out about the violence they have endured. (Forbes)
  2. Alaska: ProPublica talked to hundreds of survivors over the past year who have shared their stories. Alaska has among the highest rates of sexual crimes in America. A challenge had always been the willingness of victims, many of them traumatized and fearful of being shunned by their family or their community if they spoke out. They come from all walks of life. Alaskans from ages 23 to 73, men and women, urban and rural, Native and non-Native. People who turned to the criminal justice system, and more often those who didn’t. (ProPublica)
  3. Citing ‘weight of history’, senior UN officials of African descent issue call to ‘go beyond and do more’ to end racism. The opinion piece ends with quotations from renowned human rights and anti-racism activists, including Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s statement that “black liberation is an absolutely indispensable prerequisite to white liberation: nobody will be free until we all are free”. (United Nations)

   Following Burkina Faso’s Ambassador Dieudonné W. Désiré Sougouri statement on behalf of 54 African nations regarding the global outcry for an end to police brutality and systemic and structural racism perpetrated against Black peoples, Dr. Eleanor Nwadinobi, President of the Medical Women’s International Association released a statement: “I align fully with Coordinator of the African Group on Human Rights issues and OHCHR on the call for an urgent debate to address racially inspired human rights violations. I add my voice by calling for a Declaration of Zero Tolerance on racially inspired human rights violations.” (TrendingNG)

  1. 'Like I'm in a cage': Domestic workers trapped and abused in lockdown London. Many employees of Gulf Arab families in the UK are being exploited, with their tied visa ensuring there is little room for relief. (Middle East Eye)
  2. Wartime sexual violence survivors: Bosnia and Herzegovina’s forgotten ones. Survivors face problems often caused by the complex and dysfunctional judicial system in BiH, which insufficiently protects the rights and dignity of victims. Behind this, there are political blockades and a lack of resources –leading to the fact that victims are not provided with full and effective access to justice, truth, and reparations. (Trial International)

Additional Reading:

  • Statement by Dr. Denis Mukwege on the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict: “Today, our thoughts are with all survivors of sexual violence. To all those women and men who break the silence that their perpetrators often seek to impose on them, and who are speaking out with courage and determination to demand justice, truth, and reparations, such as the members of SEMA, the Global Network of Victims and Survivors to end wartime sexual violence.”

Mukwege also noted progress: “The last G7 summit hosted by the French Presidency emphasized gender inequality and committed itself to the fight against sexual violence in times of peace, as well as in times of conflict. This commitment made by major economic powers recognizes that a prosperous world cannot be built without respecting women's rights and benefiting from their full inclusion and added value.”

“Security Council Resolution 2467 adopted in April 2019 recognized the need for a survivor-centric approach to address and prevent sexual violence in conflict situations. It also emphasized the need for recognition and care of children born of rape and the need to strengthen accountability mechanisms for perpetrators and instigators of violence.”

Read the full statement, via the Panzi Foundation.

  • George Floyd's Brother To U.N. Human Rights Council: 'I Am Asking You To Help Us: Black People in America.’ During a quickly convened session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Floyd asked the group to set up a commission of inquiry into racism and police brutality in the United States — specifically "police killings of black people and America and the violence used against peaceful protesters." (NPR)

Summer Internships

Summer 2020 Internship Opportunities

Every Woman Treaty is offering unpaid internships to students and volunteers from around the world to work on our Lead Nations Project. Please share this announcement widely among your networks.

Due to the Covid19 pandemic, we are seeking summer interns who can work remotely from their home or place of study. We will provide supervision and support online primarily through Zoom calls. 

Lead Nations Internship: The focus of this internship is to support our Lead Nations Project. 

We are looking for interns who can assist with our Lead Nations strategy. A treaty isn't brought about by NGOs, but by nations, and we support our strong coalition of activists in 128 countries as they move the dial on women's safety and bring a treaty closer to reality in their nation. The responsibilities of this internship will include drafting country reports to aid in our outreach to lead nations, developing presentations, and providing research and other input on our grant-writing for projects related to Nigeria, Pakistan, and/or Kenya.

Requirements:

  • Strong research, writing, and presentation skills
  • It is useful if the intern in this position is from the Africa Bloc, and/or familiar with the geopolitical situation of West Africa.
  • Ability to work independently
  • Reliable technology and internet connection
  • Available 20-40 hours weekly, June-September 2020

CVs should be sent to Eliza Johnson, Chief of Staff: [email protected] 

Communications and Social Media Internship: 

The communications intern will work closely with global media superstar, Elizabeth Blackney, who is our Chief Communications Officer. The intern will be responsible for drafting web copy and maintaining and updating the style guide for Every Woman Treaty. The intern will also support our media training curriculum in conjunction with other experts to enhance the advocacy, media, communications skills for our treaty activists in 128 nations. 

Requirements:

  • Strong communications and external relations skills
  • Ability to work independently
  • Reliable technology and internet connection
  • Available 20-40 hours weekly, June-September 2020

CVs should be sent to Elizabeth Blackney, Chief Communications Officer of Every Woman Treaty at [email protected]

Graphic Design & Web Development Internship: 

The graphic design intern will work closely with global media superstar, Elizabeth Blackney, who is our Chief Communications Officer. The intern will be responsible for creating designs for print and digital campaigns, creating infographics, maintaining our wordpress site, and video editing. 

Requirements: 

  • Recent experience with wordpress
  • Ability to work independently
  • Reliable technology and internet connection
  • Available 20-40 hours weekly, June-September 2020

CVs should be sent to Elizabeth Blackney, Chief Communications Officer of Every Woman Treaty at [email protected]


Must Reads: Maternity Ward Massacre in Afghanistan

In this week’s Must Reads: Maternity ward massacre in AfghanistanAn effective response to the pandemic means tackling the violence and inequality faced by women. Using codewords to protect against violence. Every Woman Treaty Steering Committee Member Ilwad Elman and founding Board Member Fartuun Adancofounders of Elman Peace and Human Rights Center in Somalia chosen as 2020 Aurora Prize Humanitarians. Joint press statements Protecting Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and Promoting Gender-responsiveness in the COVID-19 crisis issued by 59 governments and the OSCE.

1. AfghanistanThe 100-bed, government-run hospital hosted a maternity clinic run by Doctors Without Borders, also known by its French name Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). Just hours before the attack, MSF had tweeted a photo of a newborn in his mother’s arms at the clinic after being delivered safely by emergency caesarean section. (Reuters)

“Whilst fighting was ongoing, one woman gave birth to her baby and both are doing well,” MSF said in a statement. “More than ever, MSF stands in solidarity with the Afghan people.”

2. UN OCHA: Women perform 76% of the total hours of unpaid care work globally. They have the majority of caregiving roles in homes and in communities. They will also carry more of the weight of caring for the sick and helping to stem the spread of the virus. Women do this essential work in spite of obstacles and inequalities. (The Guardian) (UN OCHA)

Related: Three sisters who worked in Mexico's government hospital system were found murdered in the northern border state of Coahuila, stirring new alarm in a country where attacks on health care workers have occurred across the nation amid the coronavirus outbreak. Two were nurses, the other a hospital administrator. (New York Times)

3. South Africa. Because of the lockdown, many of these women are unable to leave their homes. They’re spending extended periods of time indoors with their abusers and are at great risk of violence.

“I started seeing a campaign in the UK where victims were using code words in text messages, so I adapted it to the local context. We all know about koesiesters here in Cape Town, so when I get that message I know you are in trouble,” says Peters. (Mail & Guardian)

4. The Gift of Hope: Fartuun Adan and Ilwad Elman named 2020 Aurora Prize Humanitarians for the second time. “Together, mother and daughter have thrown themselves into their work, helping former child soldiers and providing survivors of rape with much-needed assistance. Their daily activity brings numerous challenges, but danger and uncertainty remain on top of the list. (Aurora Prize)

5. Joint press statement Protecting Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and Promoting Gender-responsiveness in the COVID-19 crisis. “The pandemic makes existing inequalities for women and girls, as well as discrimination of other marginalized groups such as persons with disabilities and those in extreme poverty worse and risk impeding the realization of human rights for women and girls. Participation, protection, and potential of all women and girls must be at the center of response efforts.” (Sweden – Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

More: Domestic and sexual violence risks escalate in the OSCE region. Joint statement notes “At this challenging time, the social isolation of lockdowns means women and girls, as well as other victims, may be trapped in their homes with their abusers, isolated from the people and the resources that could help them… We need to address them and ensure that victims are able to access the support they need.” (UK FCO)

ALSO:

  • WATCH: Hear from Dr. Eleanor Nwadinobi, Zainab Ali Khan, Marina Pisklakova-Parker discuss the intersecting pandemics: COVID-19 and Violence Against Women and Girls. (Every Woman Treaty)
  • WATCH: Ilwad Elman keynotes a High-Level Session ‘Sustaining Peace in the Time of Covid-19’ during the Virtual Stockholm Peace and Development Forum. (SIPRI)
  • The Rotary Foundation: Now accepting applications for the 2021-22 Rotary Peace Fellowship program. Candidates have until 31 May to submit applications to their district. Districts must submit endorsed applications to The Rotary Foundation by 1 July. (Rotary) (BBC)

REMINDER: Covid-19 and Red Shoes Virtual Event

Watch our Virtual Event from May 11th at 5:00 PM GMT / 1:00 PM EDT.

Experts from Pakistan, Nigeria, Russia, and Afghanistan will discuss the intersecting pandemics: COVID-19 and Violence Against Women and Girls.

World leaders have long been aware of the profound impacts of violence against women and girls: It was a pandemic already affecting one in three women in her lifetime - more than a billion people - before the current COVID-19 crisis. This violence predictably increased as women and girls are forced to shelter in place with their abusers.

Hotlines are receiving a spike in calls for help, home invasions and sexual violence are on the rise in some countries, some hotlines are longer staffed as governments shift their focus to the Coronavirus.

From our homes, during this global lockdown, we join Mexican architect, artist, and activist Elina Chauvet. Her installations of red shoes call for justice and systems change in remembrance of murdered and missing women.

We photograph red shoes in solidarity with those who are surviving violence this minute, locked inside with their abusers throughout this global crisis. Join us on Zoom by clicking here at 1:00 PM EDT. Send your photos to [email protected]. Join us in posting them on your social channels on June 4, 2020, during our Virtual March. Tag us, and share the hashtags #RedShoes and #EveryWoman.


Honoring Mothers and Mother Figures

 

In this week’s Must Reads: Invitation to Every Woman Virtual Event. Pregnancy Resource Hub from Every Mother Counts. New UNFPA projections predict calamitous impact on women’s health as COVID-19 pandemic continues. In Mexico, three sisters – two nurses and a hospital administrator – are found murderedYoung mother from Navajo Nation dies from COVID-19 after organizing safe practices for her community. Faulty masks for pregnant women in Japan.

1. Invitation to Virtual Event: On Monday, May 11th at 5:00 PM GMT / 1:00 PM EDT Experts from Pakistan, Nigeria, Russia, and Afghanistan will discuss the intersecting pandemics: COVID-19 and Violence Against Women and Girls. Forced to shelter in place with their abusers, women and girls are disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 global lockdowns. Hotlines are receiving a spike in calls for help, home invasions and sexual violence are on the rise in some countries, some hotlines are longer staffed as governments focus on the Coronavirus. We will also discuss our global week of solidarity with survivors around the world inspired by Mexican artist Elina Chauvet's Red Shoes protest beginning on June 4, 2020. Join via Zoom.

2. Mexico: The Coahuila Ministry of Public Security reports that three sisters who worked for the Social Security Institute (IMSS) were found strangled to death in Torreón on Friday. SAY THEIR NAMES: According to the authorities, the victims were nurses Cecilia Pérez, 48, and Dora Pérez, 56, and 59-year-old Araceli Pérez who worked as a secretary for the IMSS. (Mexico News Daily)

Related: Three sisters who worked in Mexico's government hospital system were found murdered in the northern border state of Coahuila, stirring new alarm in a country where attacks on health care workers have occurred across the nation amid the coronavirus outbreak. Two were nurses, the other a hospital administrator. (New York Times)

3. Navajo Nation. At least 70 Navajo Nation members have died from COVID-19. Among them was Valentina Blackhorse, a 28 year old mother and community leader. She left behind a daughter named Poet and a legacy of fierce dedication to her culture and her community. (NPR) (NYT Obituary)

4. Pandemic threatens achievement of the Transformative Results committed to by UNFPA. More than 47 million women could lose access to contraception, leading to 7 million unintended pregnancies in the coming months. Additional impacts on family planning, Ending Gender-based Violence, Female Genital Mutilation and Child Marriage (UNFPA) (UNFPA Report)

5. Faulty masks for pregnant women are latest problem for Japan's government. Some 300,000 coronavirus masks sent to pregnant women in Japan as part of a government handout have been found to be faulty, media reported on Tuesday, the latest in a string of complaints about how the government has dealt with the epidemic. (Reuters)

SPECIAL READ

  • From Every Mother Counts: Information and Resource Hub related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic for mothers-to-be, physicians, doulas, midwives, and caregivers. (Every Mother Counts)
  • The Rotary Foundation: Now accepting applications for the 2021-22 Rotary Peace Fellowship program. Candidates have until 31 May to submit applications to their district. Districts must submit endorsed applications to The Rotary Foundation by 1 July. (Rotary) (BBC)

 


Must Reads and an Invitation

In this week's Must Reads: How to exist in a world that seeks to erase women. Rights activists in Kenya have raised alarm after indications that gender-based-violence may be on the rise with restrictions on movement due to the coronavirus. Domestic violence assault followed by arson and mass shooting by perpetrator disguised as a RCMP officer in Nova Scotia. UK Pharmacies to provide safe spaces during coronavirus lockdown after rise in calls. Women mobilize to prevent COVID-19 in crowded Rohingya refugee campsCEDAW Call for ContributionsInvitation to join Every Woman Treaty on May 11, 2020 via Zoom. 

1. Rafia Zakaria: How to exist in a world that seeks to erase women. "The transformation we ultimately need as a society is (to get to a place) where it does not occur to men that they have the right or desire to harm women." (CNN)

2. Kenya: Agnes Odhiambo, a researcher on sub-Saharan Africa with the women's rights division of Human Rights Watch, "Now this is the situation that COVID has created where people are behind closed doors, there is no money. It’s a perfect environment for people who are abusive to even be more abusive or even for those who are usually not abusive to become abusive because of that stress, where they feel they need to exert their dominance in an environment where they are feeling kind of emasculated.” (VOA)

3. Victim of domestic violence aids police in Nova Scotia.  Following a domestic violence incident, a woman somehow escaped and emerged from hiding at daybreak. She called 911 and informed the police the perptrator was in possession of a fully marked and equipped replica RCMP vehicle and was wearing an RCMP uniform. The perpetrator set multiple homes and buildings on fire, and targeted more than 20 people in a shooting spree. (National Post)

Related: Women face particular challenges due to gun access, as women are five times more likely to be killed if their partner owns a gun. Despite such danger, the US recently watered down the definition of domestic violence to include only physical harm at the level of a felony, excluding psychological abuse, coercion, and manipulation. (Mediators Without Borders)

4. United Kingdom: Boots Pharmacies to provide safe spaces during coronavirus lockdown after rise in calls. Many victims who are now unable to seek help while at home trapped with their abusers will still be expected to shop for food and medicine, and there have been calls for safe space initiatives to be introduced in supermarkets and more pharmacies. Multiple support services for domestic abuse have reported a surge in calls to helplines since the lockdown was imposed, while the Metropolitan police said it was making an average of about 100 arrests a day for offences linked to abuse in the home. (The Guardian)

5. Bangladesh: To counter the gendered risks and barriers for women and girls in Cox’s Bazar, Rohingya women leaders self-mobilized, forming networks and raising awareness on COVID-19 across all camps. The rise in domestic violence and other forms of violence against women as a result of social tensions and panic in the camps is another key concern for these women. Global estimates show that in crisis settings, more than 70 percent of women experience gender-based violence. (UN Women)

SPECIAL READ

  •  Call for Contributions: The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women is currently elaborating a General Recommendation on trafficking of women and girls in the  context of global migration. The Committee decided to invite all interested parties to submit contributions in writing for the "Draft General Recommendation on TWGCGM".After a thorough and due consideration of contributions provided, only the Committee will decide on the contents of the final version of the General Recommendation on Trafficking of Women and Girls in the Context of Global Migration. (UN OHCHR)

Also…

  • InvitationJoin us online May 11, 2020 via Zoom at 1:00PM EDT / GMT -4). We will be discussing our global week of solidarity with survivors around the world inspired by Mexican artist Elina Chauvet's Red Shoes protest beginning on June 4, 2020. In 2009, Chauvet staged her first art installation of red shoes - representing the bloodshed women face in Mexico because of femicide, domestic, and sexualized violence. Her installations have inspired activists around the world  - join us to hear a special message from Elina Chauvet and take a stand in solidarity. (Every Woman Treaty)

  • The COVID-19 pandemic will likely have adverse and disproportionate effects on women and girls around the world, particularly in the rise of gender-based violence. CARE is working to prevent and respond to this issue in 24 countries. “We know that when emergencies hit, women and girls come last,” says CARE’s Humanitarian Policy Director Susannah Friedman. (CARE)

  • “A Difficult Client”: Lynn’s Story of Captivity, Non-State Torture, and Human Trafficking by Her Husband. (International Journal of Advanced Nursing Education and Research)

  • Colombian journalist Jineth Bedoya Lima to receive 2020 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. Born in 1974, Jineth Bedoya Lima’s reporting has focused on the armed conflict and peace process in Colombia and on sexual violence against women. Ms Bedoya Lima was herself a victim of sexual violence in 2000 when she was abducted and raped in connection with an investigation into arms trafficking she was conducting for daily newspaper El Espectador. Three years later, while working for the daily El Tiempo, she was kidnapped by militants of the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

    “The courage and commitment of Jineth Bedoya Lima, doubly exposed to unacceptable risks as a woman and as a journalist, inspire profound respect,” said UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay. “We need the work of professional and independent journalists.”

    “The present pandemic highlights the vital role journalists play in providing all of us with access to reliable, in some cases vital, information in crises situations,” Ms. Azoulay added. “It also shows the many risks journalists face everywhere in the world in the exercise of their profession.” (UNESCO)

  • Nobel Women: Tune in Monday, May 4th at 11 am ET  for a Facebook Live conversation with outgoing UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Defenders, Michel Forst, to talk risks and challenges faced by women human rights defenders and how the global community can act to protect them.
  • Listen: FiLiA Podcast with Simi Kamal. Simi Kamal is head of grants at the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund. Simi joins FiLiA to discuss her experience and work as part of the Every Woman Treaty - a campaign to end violence against women and girls worldwide. (FiLiA)
  • The Rotary Foundation: Now accepting applications for the 2021-22 Rotary Peace Fellowship program. Candidates have until 31 May to submit applications to their district. Districts must submit endorsed applications to The Rotary Foundation by 1 July. (Rotary) (BBC)

Must Reads: As Helplines are Flooded with Calls, Governments Respond to Spike in Violence Against Women and Girls

In this week's Must Reads: Five ways governments are responding to violence against women and children during COVID-19 from UNICEF. In lockdown Bolivia, calls from abused girls flood hotline. Ethiopia's missing students, Families' pain and the unsolved mystery. The danger of Covid-19 for refugees: Concerns mount as displaced populations are particularly vulnerable. UK Home Secretary insists there is support available for at-risk women as charities report massive increase in calls. More must reads include harrowing reports from India and Mexico.

1. Since the coronavirus lockdown began in Bolivia, Brisa De Angulo's charity for sexually abused children has received hundreds of telephone calls from girls trapped in homes with their abusers. "The risk has increased exponentially. Now children are 24/7 with their aggressors." Her charity, Breeze of Hope, provides free legal and psychological help to thousands of child victims in Bolivia's central city of Cochabamba. (Thomson Reuters)

2. Ethiopia: "We are grieving. I can't stop thinking about her. The entire family can't eat," a visibly pained Mare Abebe told the BBC. She is worried about Belaynesh Mekonnen, a first-year economics student at Ethiopia's Dembi Dolo University, who was kidnapped last December, along with 17 of her colleagues. (BBC)

3. UNICEF: Reports have warned of the “perfect storm”, manifesting in increased calls to helplines, online support services, and police reports. Multinational organisations quickly took action, issuing statements warning of increased risk of both forms of violence, while researchers reviewed evidence from past crises, proposing policy actions to mitigate against potential harm to populations in situations of vulnerability. Family PoliciesChildcare (UNICEF)

4. International Rescue Committee: Displaced populations are particularly vulnerable to the dangers of the coronaviru. David Miliband, President and CEO, told the New Yorker, "Covid-19 is a disease of the connected world, where all of us are only as strong as the weakest link in the chain, where the only solution has got to be a universal solution." (New Yorker)

5. United Kingdom: The UK’s largest domestic abuse charity, Refuge, has reported a 700% increase in calls to its helpline in a single day, while a separate helpline for perpetrators of domestic abuse seeking help to change their behaviour received 25% more calls after the start of the Covid-19 lockdown. (The Guardian)

SPECIAL READ

  • Ashwini Deshpande: In locked down India, women fight coronavirus and domestic violence. The stories seem to follow a script. Countries declare lockdown, and within 10 days, calls to helplines see a spike. Women call in distress because they or their children are being abused at home, with or without physical violence. (Quartz)
  • Beyond the Coronavirus: In Mexico,  the new sororidad is no longer interested in securing a stronger role for women in Mexican society; it’s gunning for a louder, more radical feminism, pulling up the roots of the old system — which it claims innately dehumanizes women — as it nurtures a new one. Its first demand is radical enough: “Stop killing us.” (Women's Media Center)
  • The Rotary Foundation: Now accepting applications for the 2021-22 Rotary Peace Fellowship program. Candidates have until 31 May to submit applications to their district. Districts must submit endorsed applications to The Rotary Foundation by 1 July. (Rotary) (BBC)

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Must Reads: UN and WHO Spotlight Domestic Violence Amid Lockdowns

In this week's Must Reads: Leaders from the United Nations and the World Health Organization address the impact of Covid-19 and the disproportionate impact on women and girls. South Africa addresses 87,000 incidents of gender based violence reported during the 21 day Covid-19 lockdown. In Saudi Arabia, "Women are carrying the double burden of fighting the spread of virus infections and attacks by perpetrators of gender-based violence.” Kenya responds to the spike in sexualized and gender based violence, including the kidnap and rape of a 16 year old girl. She was rescued by neighbors and is now being cared for in a safe house in Nairobi. The attacker reportedly said he kidnapped her because he needed female company to get through the government-imposed COVID-19 lockdown

  1. United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres releases policy brief: The Impact of Covid-19 on Women. "Nearly one in five women worldwide has experienced violence in the past year.  Many of these women are now trapped at home with their abusers, struggling to access services that are suffering from cuts and restrictions. “This was the basis for my appeal to governments earlier this week to take urgent steps to protect women and expand support services.” (UN)
  2. World Health Organization: "We call on countries to include services to #EndViolence as an essential service that must continue during the response. There is never any excuse for violence.” (WHO)
  3. South Africa:87,000 incidents of gender-based violence reported in South Africa since the 21-day national lockdown. Mkhize expressed anger and disappointment in the “toxic patriarchal mindset” which seemed unstoppable despite the nation walking in the shadow of “deadly disaster. Women are carrying the double burden of fighting the spread of virus infections and attacks by perpetrators of gender-based violence.” Mkhize urged those who felt victimised to contact the police on their Crime Stop number 0860-10111. (The Editor)
  4. Saudi Arabia:Victim-blaming in Saudi deters sexual and domestic violence victims from reporting their cases. "I reported it and the police came to convince me to drop the charges while my abuser sat with them," wrote a Twitter user by the name of Catolina.” (Thomson Reuters)
  5. Kenya:For four days, Juliet M., a 16-year-old Kenyan, was held captive by a man and sexually assaulted. She was rescued by neighbors and is now being cared for in a safe house in Nairobi. The attacker reportedly said he kidnapped her because he needed female company to get through the government-imposed COVID-19 lockdown.The government has adopted strict measures to counter the spread of the COVID-19 virus. But these measures, as necessary as they are, are having particular impact on women and girls, including elevating the risk of gender-based violence. Last week, the National Council on Administration of Justice reported “a significant spike in sexual offences in many parts of the country in the past two weeks.” (HRW)

SPECIAL READ

  • From Melinda Gates: "Inevitably, some people will argue that we should table conversations about gender equality until we get through this emergency. But the disease and its affects are not gender neutral. Our response cannot be either." (USA Today)
  • Afghanistan: The all-female robotics team made a cheap ventilator out of Toyota parts, joining the fight against Covid-19. The governor of Herat put out a public plea for more ventilators, five young women answered the call.
  • This team consists of five Dreamers aged between 14 and 17; captain Somaya Faruqi, Dyana Wahbzadeh, Folernace Poya, Ellaham Mansori and Nahid Rahimi. They are currently working with two prototypes. One is a gear-based system based on a design from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US. The other uses parts from a Toyota Corolla. (The National)
  • UNFPA issues guidance on COVID-19. Women represent 70 percent of the health and social sector workforce globally and special attention should be given to how their work environment may expose them to discrimination, as well as thinking about their sexual and reproductive health and psychosocial needs as frontline health workers. 
  • Download: English  Spanish  French  Arabic  Turkish  Portuguese  Russian  Tajik
  • The Rotary Foundation: Now accepting applications for the 2021-22 Rotary Peace Fellowship program. Candidates have until 31 May to submit applications to their district. Districts must submit endorsed applications to The Rotary Foundation by 1 July. (Rotary) (BBC)

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