Emerging data on violence against women confirm a shadow pandemic

Even before COVID-19, violence against women was one of the most widespread violations of human rights. As the pandemic raged on, the threat of a “shadow pandemic” of violence against women emerged. Reports of violence against women, and particularly domestic violence, increased as security, health, and money worries compounded the strains of living in lockdown.

Building on the success of the rapid gender assessments on the socioeconomic effects of the pandemic, UN Women is now conducting a similar study to focus on violence against women. Early findings just released from four countries show that violence against women has indeed increased as a result of COVID-19.

Findings are available from Cameroon, Kenya, Thailand and Ukraine. Select a country from the dropdown menu below to see what we are learning.

 

At the opening ceremony of the Generation Equality Forum in Paris on 30 June 2021, President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya underscored his commitment to ending violence against women and girls, including building a strong data and evidence base to inform policies and programmes. In particular, he committed to inserting "a gender-based violence module in the upcoming 2022 Demographic and Health Survey to strengthen the utilization of gender statistics and inform the design and scale and evaluation of FGM and gender-based violence programmes." The below findings are expected to further inform Kenya’s policy response.

More than half of women surveyed reported that they or a woman they know experienced physical violence and verbal abuse since the onset of COVID-19

Women who reported this are more likely to be older (aged 50-59 years), living in rural areas, and separated and widowed women. They are also more likely to be mothers and middle-income earners.

Which, if any, of the following have you or any woman you know experienced since the start of COVID-19?

 

Source: UN Women's 2021 Rapid Gender Assessment on the Impacts of COVID-19 on Violence against Women in Kenya (forthcoming).
Notes:
Physical violence refers to "Have been slapped, kicked, had things thrown at them, or other physical harm."
Verbal abuse refers to "Been yelled at, called names, humiliated."
Sexual harassment refers to "Been the subject of inappropriate jokes, suggestive comments, leering, or unwelcome touching/kissing"

 

1 in 5 women reported feeling unsafe in their household in the last six months

More than a quarter of these women (26%) report that other adults in their household have hurt them, and they are unable to communicate or reach out for help.

Source: UN Women's 2021 Rapid Gender Assessment on the Impacts of COVID-19 on Violence against Women in Kenya (forthcoming).
 

Why do you feel unsafe in your home?

 

Source: UN Women's 2021 Rapid Gender Assessment on the Impacts of COVID-19 on Violence against Women in Kenya (forthcoming).
 

 

COVID-19 is negatively affecting women’s mental and emotional well-being

In Kenya, 9 in 10 women reported that their difficulties have worsened due to the pandemic. Specifically, 6 out of 10 Kenyan women reported that they are unable to control the important things in their lives, while 7 out of 10 reported that their difficulties were piling up so high that they could not overcome them.

In the last month, how often did you feel...

 

Source: UN Women's 2021 Rapid Gender Assessment on the Impacts of COVID-19 on Violence against Women in Kenya (forthcoming).
 

 


Note: These findings are from a survey conducted from May-June 2021

About the UN Women study on COVID-19 and violence against women

UN Women is conducting a study on the impacts of COVID-19 on violence against women through rapid gender assessments in 14 countries. The study is producing new reliable, cross-country, and nationally representative data following and addressing ethical and safety concerns overcoming limitations of rapid assessments done remotely and during crises.

More data and findings for these four countries, covering women aged 18 years or over, will be available in country statistical reports to be released soon. These reports will feature more insights and evidence on issues such as women’s safety at home and in the public sphere during COVID-19, restrictions to resources, confinements at home, among others.

Country reports for three more countries (Cameroon, Ukraine, and Thailand) will be released in the coming months, while data collection will start in 10 additional countries.

 

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