The Unsafety Net: How Violence Turned Towards Women

The women had often faced various forms of the unsafety net on the internet

The availability of data on violence against women and girls has improved considerably in recent years and data on the prevalence of intimate partner violence is now available for the unsafety net in at least 106 countries. 

Prevalence of violence against women and girls: 

(a) Globally, an estimated 736 million women almost one in three have been subjected to physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence, non-partner sexual violence, or both at least once in their life (30 percent of women aged 15 and older). This figure does not include sexual harassment.

(b)  The unsafety net rates of depression, anxiety disorders, unplanned pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, and HIV are higher in women who have experienced violence compared to women who have not, as well as many other health problems that can last even after the violence has ended.

(c) Most violence against women is perpetrated by current or former husbands or intimate partners. More than 640 million women aged 15 and older have been subjected to intimate partner violence (26 percent of women aged 15 and older).

(d) Globally, violence against women disproportionately affects low- and lower-middle-income countries and regions. Thirty-seven percent of women aged 15 to 49 living in countries classified by the Sustainable Development Goals as “least developed” have been subject to physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence in their life. 

(e) Twenty-two percent of women living in “least developed countries” have been subjected to intimate partner violence in the past 12 months substantially higher than the world average of 13 percent.

(f) Globally 81,000 women and girls were killed in 2020, around 47,000 of them (58 percent) died at the hands of an intimate partner or a family member, which equals to a woman or girl being killed every 11 minutes in their home. In 58 percent of all killings perpetrated by intimate partners or other family members, the victim was a woman or girl.

The impact of the unsafety net during COVID-19 on violence against women and girls:

There is the initial evidence of intensification of violence against women and girls across the globe. Reports from service-use data in different countries have shown an important increase in reported cases of domestic violence to helplines, women’s refuges/shelters, and the police, linked to COVID-19. 

Calls to helplines have increased five-fold in some countries. Other countries, however, have observed a decrease in the number of domestic violence incidents reported, highlighting accessibility and availability challenges during lockdowns and other social distancing measures.

By October 2021, 52 countries had integrated violence against women and girls prevention and response into COVID-19 plans, and 150 countries have adopted measures to strengthen services for women survivors of violence during the global crisis.

Continuing efforts are needed to ensure the recovery responses fully integrate ending violence against women measures to build a post-pandemic equal world.

The Internet searches related to violence against women and help-seeking rose significantly during COVID-19 lockdowns. Searches related to physical violence, including keywords such as “physical abuse signs”, “violent relationship”, and “cover bruises on face” increased 47 percent in Malaysia, 63 percent in the Philippines, and 55 percent in Nepal between October 2019 and September 2020. 

Searches using help-seeking keywords such as “domestic violence hotline” increased in almost all countries, including a 70 percent rise in Malaysia.

Reporting of violence against women:

Less than 40 percent of the women who experience violence seek the help of any sort. In the majority of countries with available data on this issue, among women who do seek help, most look to family and friends and very few look to formal institutions, such as police and health services. Less than 10 percent of those seeking help appealed to the police.

Economic costs of violence against women and girls:

Violence against women can result in significant costs to the state, victims/survivors, and communities. Costs are both direct and indirect, and tangible and intangible. 

For example, the costs of the salaries of individuals working at shelters are direct tangible costs. Costs are borne by everyone, including individual victims/survivors, perpetrators, the government, and society in general.

The unsafety net results for estimating productivity loss due to violence indicate that women experiencing violence earn 35 percent less than those not abused representing another significant drain on the national economy.  

In Egypt, it was estimated that 500,00 working days are lost each year due to marital violence, and the health sector bears.

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