The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has called on its members to take action to protect victims of domestic violence amid a rise in cases during the current coronavirus lockdownsIn a statement on Wednesday, SADC Executive Secretary Stergomena Lawrence Tax said the COVID-19 pandemic makes reporting of abuses harder for victims of gender-based violence (GBV) due to the disruption of public services and limited access to communication facilities such as phones and helplines.
“It is therefore important for the member states to provide flexible and innovative tools for reporting, counselling services, and support to domestic violence,” Tax said.
She called on SADC countries to ensure public awareness is raised on available tools such as shelters and other places of safety to enable GBV victims to access and utilise them.
According to the statement, GBV cases have risen significantly worldwide since the start of the pandemic early this year, particularly following the lockdown measures instituted by governments to contain the spread of the virus.
Tax cited a UN Women report that shows that some countries around the world, particularly those highly affected by COVID-19, have registered up to 30 percent increase in reported GBV cases as well as a 33-percent rise in emergency calls for GBV, with women and girls being the victims of these acts.