In times of crisis, the shadows of violence against women (VAW) grow longer. As support systems crumble and mobility is restricted, women face a surge in violence with diminished access to critical assistance. Such vulnerabilities are evident in the Pacific Island Countries, where the COVID-19 pandemic overlapped with a range of natural hazards, political turmoil, and conflicts.
Capturing accurate data on violence against women during crises is challenging, with survivors scattered and the confidentiality of their responses at risk. Taking these challenges into account, UN Women's Regional Office in Asia and the Pacific undertook a study harnessing big data from social media searches and posts, to uncover the discourse on VAW.
By studying the search behaviors of online users, the study shows that during and after crises, the volume of searches related to VAW increases in some contexts. Both general information seekers and those desperately seeking help turned to online platforms for answers. The analysis of social media conversations shed light on the vital role played by service providers, even as online users voiced the challenges faced in accessing these lifelines.
These findings have the potential to shape VAW policies in times of crisis. By leveraging this knowledge, governments and organizations can bolster essential services, and strengthen outreach, to ensure their reach extends far to safeguard and support survivors of VAW.