As the scourge of Covid-19 continues to sweep across the world, data published by the United Nations shows that all types of violence against women and girls have intensified.

The UN calls this a Shadow Pandemic and is calling for global action to halt the increased violence directed at women and children. Worryingly, the UN reports that Covid-19 cases have strained health services at the same time that domestic violence shelters and helplines reached capacity in many countries.

Emerging data also points to an increase in sexual harassment and other forms of violence, while resources are diverted to deal with the crisis of the pandemic. This “alarming” increase in violence has been in the form of physical, psychological, sexual and economic violence, the UN said.

With schools closed, and financial and food security increased due to economic hardship, girls and women are more vulnerable to exploitation and harassment. With lockdowns in various countries, survivors have also struggled to access support.

A year like no other

The UN said this year has been like no other, with at least 243 million women and girls abused by an intimate partner in the past 12 months. What’s worse, this figure is also not complete. The UN says that less than 40 percent of those experiencing GBV report it or seek help, meaning the actual numbers of those abused are much higher. UN Women’s Generation Equality campaign is also focusing on the funding gaps for various programmes that have emerged during the pandemic.

16 Days of Activism gender-based violence

(United Nations)