© Università degli Studi di Padova - Credits: HCE Web agency
On 27 March 2020, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Dubravka Simonovic, urged all States to uphold the human rights of women and children and come up with urgent measures to the victims of such violence during the COVID-19 lockdowns, as this could lead to an increase of domestic violence.
The UN expert expressed her concerns regarding the increasing rate of widespread domestic violence reported during this special period. “For too many women and children, home can be a place of fear and abuse. That situation worsens considerably in cases of isolation such as the lockdowns imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Ms Simonovic warned. She addressed that, for the victims of domestic violence, their risk is aggravated in the time of lockdown, as it reduces the availability and accessibility of shelters and help services for victims.
Simonovic expressed particular concerns about women at higher risk of domestic violence, such as women with disabilities, undocumented migrant women and victims of trafficking.
The UN expert called on governments to maintain available existing measures to protect victims, as well as to adopt new and creative solutions to support them. As she required, “Governments must not allow the extraordinary circumstances and restrictive measures against COVID-19 to lead to the violation of women’s right to a life free from violence.”
An increase of domestic violence due to state-imposed lockdowns have been already reported in many countries by newspapers and research institutes, whereas anti-violence agencies and associations encourage authorities to reinforce and diversify support services in the field.
Simonovic's statement has been endorsed by following UN human rights experts:
Elizabeth Broderick (Vice Chair);
Alda Facio, Ms. Ivana Radačić, Meskerem Geset Techane (Chair);
Melissa Upreti, Working Group on discrimination against women and girls;
Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children;
Catalina Devandas Aguilar, Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities;
Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions;
and Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children.
The original statement of the Special Rapporteur is available at the link below.