Gender-based violence occurs in all countries in economic and social groups. It undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims. We must agree that the level of violence especially domestic violence has increased during the time of the pandemic. We have seen it reduced prevention and protection efforts on social services and care particularly health care and accelerated the increase of violence among young people particularly to adolescent girls and young women.
The pandemic has diverse impacts to young people in relation to increase of gender based violence. The measures to respond to COVID-19 have further exacerbated risk factors for vulnerable populations such as women, young people, and persons living with disabilities (PWDs) as they could be locked in homes with their abusers. Therefore, GBV cases, including physical and emotional abuse, rape, sexual exploitation, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and early marriages, are on the rise.
Yet the impact of COVID19 on socio-economic activities perpetrated the vulnerability of the young people towards GBV, the access to socio-economic opportunities decreased which then made young people especially young women more vulnerable and dependent, this threatened their safety. Moreover the tension of the pandemic was largely emphasized on public health and focusing on how people can protect themselves from the infection rather than focusing beyond the infection itself and considering socio-economic effects it brought to the community including Gender Based Violence.
The Future We Want: Possible Solutions
The ascending of COVID 19 has mounted young people especially young women into a threatening situation about their sexuality, reproductive rights, health, and beyond. It is undeniable fact that COVID 19 has brought more miseries to Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW) in different ways and it is about time to re-think and re-strategize how best we can maximize the protection to this group so as they reach their potential.
The protection, prevention, and care of services to Young Women should be prioritized to the max level where everyone can be safe to exercise and make choices of their own. The protection starts with them by knowing their rights.
It is more important to engage boys and young men in this fight to make it easy for them to stand for the rights of adolescent girls and young women when necessary. It’s a call to all my fellow advocates to highly invest in the knowledge and skills that young girls and women, as well as boys and young men, need to necessary position them to be the foundation of their own decision and choices and NOT taken CHANCES that can hinder them not to reach to their full potentials.
Moreover the need to collaboratively support youth innovative initiatives towards working on issues of GBV and SRHR in general. It is time that young people need to be considered as key stakeholders and partners when formulating, planning and implementation of any intervention that are of their concern.
In courtesy of Let’s Talk Campaign and Young People Today Efforts of ending child marriages and Early and unintended pregnancy
by Catherine Joseph Madebe