According German Press Agency (DPA), Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić has expressed concern about an increase in domestic violence during the lockdowns due to the corona virus. Reports from member countries in the past few weeks already have shown that women and children are now at greater risk of abuse within their own homes.
In addition to the increased risk of violence, the effects of the crisis also could harm women economically and threaten their financial independence, the Secretary General said, mentioning the reports from France showed that many women were unable to call helplines because of the restrictions.
According to Pejčinović Burić, the help phone numbers received four times fewer calls than normal. At the same time, instant messages to relevant aid organisations across Europe have increased. This could mean that perpetrators prevent their victims from seeking help by phone.
In Denmark, it has been observed that the number of women seeking refuge in a women’s shelters has increased. The Council of Europe, based in Strasbourg, France, has the task of monitoring human rights in its 47 member states. In addition to the EU countries, including Switzerland, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and Azerbaijan. The Council of Europe also has contacts with German authorities on domestic violence, said Pejčinović Burić.
The Secretary General added that the Council of Europe offers member states a platform to exchange information on domestic violence and best practice to prevent it.
We are pleased to announce the launch of a dedicated resource page Women’s Rights and the Covid – 19 pandemic on information on national measures taken to prevent and combat domestic, sexual and gender-based violence, and to mitigate the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic on equality between women and men. This information was compiled following a joint call for information to the Council of Europe Gender Equality Commission and the Committee of the Parties to the Istanbul Convention.
This webpage serves as a platform for inspiration, synergies and exchange of practices, as much as a resource tool for anyone in need of information about what states, but also international organisations, including other bodies of the Council of Europe, as well as civil society are doing to put the protection of women’s rights at the heart of the fight against the pandemic.
According to Kaavya Asoka Executive Director NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres emphasized these very impacts in his recent calls to action on violence against women and for a global ceasefire. As the primary body responsible for maintenance of peace and security, the UN Security Council must take action, and place gender at the center of its response, especially in the year marking the 20th anniversary of UNSCR 1325 (2000).
In addition to NGO’s recent MAP recommendations for April, and resources on COVID-19 on their website, the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace, and Security just published key recommendations for the UN Security Council on how to address the gendered impact of the pandemic ahead of its first meeting on the COVID-19 pandemic tomorrow, Why Women’s Rights Must be Central to the UN Security Council’s Response to COVID-19.
Defending women’s human rights and supporting women’s leadership are as critical to peace and security as they are to addressing COVID-19. We hope you’ll share these important recommendations with your networks.