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  • We all know about the pandemic that has come to define 2020.

  • Understandably, COVID-19 has dominated the world's agenda,

  • and mandatory lockdowns were introduced in many countries

  • to help control the spread of the virus.

  • For many of us, the lockdown was inconvenient.

  • We couldn't go to our normal places of business,

  • we couldn't visit family or friends,

  • and we couldn't socialize publicly.

  • But for some people, though,

  • the freedom to get out of the house

  • was not just a matter of convenience

  • but of physical safety and even life or death.

  • Based on my work, I see the great majority of those vulnerable people are women,

  • and this resonates with me,

  • especially today as I give my talk from the safety of my home.

  • As a practicing obstetrician and gynecologist,

  • I'm all too aware of the prevalence of gender-based violence

  • in communities across Nigeria.

  • And this is why I founded

  • the Women at Risk International Foundation, WARIF,

  • in 2016

  • in response to this.

  • Global estimates published by the WHO indicate

  • that one in three women worldwide have experienced an act of violence.

  • And this was before the lockdown.

  • In March, an increase in the number of cases of violence against women

  • was becoming apparent across the world,

  • amounting to a shadow pandemic that we are now faced with globally.

  • In France for example, there was a 30 percent increase

  • in the number of cases of domestic violence.

  • And in Argentina,

  • emergency calls from domestic violence cases

  • increased by 25 percent.

  • In the first two weeks of the lockdown in Lagos State,

  • our emergency phone lines rang nonstop,

  • and we recorded a 64 percent increase in calls

  • from women trapped at home with their abusers,

  • in fear for their lives.

  • By June, the authorities became aware of the shadow pandemic,

  • and a state of emergency on rape

  • was declared by the federal government of Nigeria.

  • As we fielded the distressing calls from girls and women, young and old,

  • we were able to help,

  • as thankfully, we kept the WARIF rape crisis center open

  • as a refuge of last resort.

  • In the more remote areas,

  • many women had to walk miles to receive any medical care and attention

  • as there was no transportation because of the lockdown.

  • They had no internet access to reach social media platforms,

  • and they had limited phone services

  • to call a 24-hour confidential helpline or even a neighbor.

  • So the situation for these women was much worse.

  • Our solution in addressing this was this:

  • There are over 3,000 traditional birth attendants

  • working in rural areas across Lagos State today.

  • These are community-based men and women

  • who have been informally trained

  • and provide basic health care to both women and expectant mothers.

  • But none of them had received any form of training

  • on how to help women suffering from domestic violence.

  • We successfully trained 1,300 of these community gatekeepers

  • as first responders

  • in addressing the cases of violence against women

  • in their communities.

  • This meant that during the lockdown,

  • they were galvanized to go house to house in their communities

  • and with their training,

  • were able to offer the necessary assistance

  • to women trapped at home, unable to receive care.

  • Reports varied from verbal and emotional abuse

  • to far worse beatings and sexual violence.

  • But those home visits

  • served as an opportunity for these women to share their stories

  • and to receive the much needed care and support

  • that the traditional birth attendants offered.

  • This program had been rolled out

  • across an additional seven local communities

  • and has reached nearly 35,000 people,

  • raising awareness of the shadow pandemic in these communities.

  • In the months to come,

  • we plan on including our other gatekeepers,

  • the law enforcement officials and the religious leaders,

  • truly impacting on communities

  • and on the safety and the lives of these women.

  • As we embrace the new normal of working remotely from home

  • and with online schooling,

  • it is more than likely

  • that more women will be trapped at home with their abusers

  • and this shadow pandemic will persist.

  • But I take hope and inspiration

  • from the courage and determination

  • of the many who work to protect and support these women.

  • I have been awed by the unbelievable strength and the tenacity

  • that these women have shown during these precarious times

  • and their ability to find their power in spite of all of this adversity.

  • So, with or without the pandemic,

  • the work to protect girls and women continues,

  • because every girl and woman,

  • no matter what part of the world she lives,

  • has the right to live in a society free of any form of violence against her.

  • Thank you.

We all know about the pandemic that has come to define 2020.

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B1 TED violence domestic violence shadow pandemic lockdown

The shadow pandemic of domestic violence during COVID-19 | Kemi DaSilvaIbru

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    林宜悉 posted on 2021/02/05
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