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)


  •  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)


  • 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)
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