WHO: Violence Against Women is Increasing due to The Coronavirus Pandemic And ‘it Cannot be Stopped with A Vaccine’

On Tuesday, the World Health Organization published a report indicating that a third of the world’s women are exposed to physical, especially sexual violence, by their partners in most cases. The report considers that the Coronavirus pandemic contributed to exacerbating the situation due to the confinement of homes and the difficult economic consequences that accompanied it. “Violence against women is a scourge rooted in all countries and cultures,” said the Director-General of the Health Organization, and called on governments to take action because “unlike Covid-19, the violence against women cannot be stopped with a vaccine.”

According to a report published Tuesday by the World Health Organization the day after International Women’s Day, a third of women in the world are victims of physical violence, especially sexual, and the pandemic has contributed to exacerbating matters. The organization stated in the report that about 736 million girls and women aged fifteen and over have been subjected to assault, often at the hands of their partner.

Doctor Claudia Garcia-Moreno, one of the authors of the report, said that even if solid data are still not available until now, it is clear that the effects of the pandemic, which appeared more than a year ago, forced millions of people to stay in their homes and caused a global economic crisis, are negative.

“We know that the situation of many women is likely to worsen,” she said, noting that 641 million women, or 26% of those aged fifteen and over, were victims of violence by their partners.

“Women who were being abused found themselves stuck in this situation. Suddenly they found themselves more isolated and always with the partner who was abusing them,” she said. The material difficulties and stress of children being constantly at home, and other problems resulting from the pandemic, may contribute to new violence.

The report also reveals that 6% of women have been subjected to sexual assault by someone other than their partner, but the taboos surrounding this issue suggest that their real number is much higher. These excesses often begin at a young age.

“Violence against women is a scourge that is rooted in all countries and cultures, and affects millions of women and their families,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. He called on governments to act because, “unlike Covid-19, the violence that women are exposed to cannot be stopped with a vaccine.”

‘Domestic violence rates are extremely high’

The report, published on Tuesday, is the second of its kind and is based on data collected between 2000 and 2018. However, the difference in methodology makes comparisons difficult with the first document on the subject published in 2013. What is clear to the researcher is that “rates of domestic violence are very high and it is necessary to act urgently.”

A quarter of girls between the ages of 15 and 19 who entered a relationship have experienced physical or sexual violence from their partners. “This is a source of concern, as adolescence and adulthood are important stages for health and development, as well as for building foundations for healthy relationships,” she stressed.

She also noticed regional variations, even if the level of violence was “very high everywhere.” Poor countries generally witness higher levels of violence against women than rich countries, and Oceania is the region most affected by this scourge, with 51% of women between 15 and 49 years old being subjected to these attacks. South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa were also severely affected. Southern Europe has the lowest rate, at 16%.