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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