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)

Share your stories with Every Woman Treaty with a reply to this email, or contact me directly at [email protected]


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)

Share your stories with Every Woman Treaty with a reply to this email, or contact me directly at [email protected] 


Must Reads: No Place to Hide

In this week's Must Reads: Amid lockdowns, shutdowns, curfews, and social distancing, there is a rise in reported cases of sexualized violenceIn the UK, "It's a perfect storm," Suzanne Jacob, chief executive of British charity SafeLives. Reports of domestic abuse have spiked by about 30% since France went into lockdown in mid-March. In Pakistan, between 70 to 90 percent of women experience some form of physical, emotional or psychological abuse— mostly from an intimate partner.

1. "Lockdowns will lead to a surge in domestic abuse, but also severely limit the ability of services to help." As the United Kingdom shut down, charities urged employers, bank staff, healthworkers and neighbours to be extra vigilant, adding that even a note dropped in a grocery bag could be a lifeline for a woman trapped with an abusive partner. (Thomson Reuters)

2. Reports of domestic abuse have spiked by about 30% since France went into lockdown in mid-March. French officials set up an “alert system” in pharmacies nationwide, where victims of domestic abuse could discreetly ask the pharmacist to call police by asking for a “mask 19.” The initiative mimics a scheme set up in Spain’s Canary Islands that uses the same code word. (Vice)

3. France announced that it will pay for 20,000 nights in hotel rooms for victims of domestic violence and open pop-up counseling centers at supermarkets. There are worrying reports from other countries, too. "There has always been gender violence, but this crisis makes it all worse," said Simona Ammerata, who works at the Lucha y Siesta women's shelter in Rome, Italy. (CNN)

4. "For decades, critically important public programs and structures have been starved of funding, and efforts to ensure that women have adequate income, health care, worker protections, support for caregivers, nutrition and housing assistance have been met with relentless resistance," said Fatima Goss Graves, head of the National Women's Law Center, in a statement to CBS News on Tuesday. "Those efforts have placed women and their families at unconscionable risk from the COVID-19 crisis." (CBS)

5. In Pakistan, the most-cited estimate says between 70 to 90 percent of women experience some form of physical, emotional or psychological abuse— mostly from an intimate partner. Acts of physical violence in marital relationships are almost always accompanied by psychological abuse, and in thirty to fifty percent of cases, it is also accompanied by sexual abuse. Such abuse is typically part of an on-going pattern of patriarchal control, rather than an isolated act of physical aggression. (DAWN)

SPECIAL READ

  • From Indrani Goradia on Thrive Global. In her piece No Place to Hide,  she notes: "This Coronavirus pandemic is forcing closures of schools and workplaces. As I began to do my work in the gender violence space, I realized that victims have the same fears about being at home with a raging abuser. When the abuser is at home, violence occurs. When the abuser is at work, the victim gets a respite, either because they (victims) go to work themselves or because they(victims) are at home alone."When we add the ongoing pandemic of violence to women, it is easy to see that there will be more pain for women who are being forced to spend time at home."

Also…

  • Podcast with Indrani Goradia: Pandemic Inside a Pandemic. Listen on Our Voices Matter.

  • Coronavirus lockdown in India: Vimlesh Solanki, a volunteer for a Sambhali Trust, an organisation that supports women in Jodhpur, the second largest city in Rajasthan, says coronavirus has put women in danger. "Stressful situations like this means that there are more things that trigger their already abusive partners." (BBC)

  • Here’s What Women’s Rights Lawyers Want You To Know About Supporting Working Women During COVID-19. (Refinery29)

  • 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)

Share your stories with Every Woman Treaty via email at [email protected]