A Raise in Gender Based Violence in the Wake of COVID-19
In the wake of COVID-19 with the restriction on movement and economic downturn, with multidimensional poverty head- count ration of 51.7%1 , GBV cases have increased. Due to the fact that most of Afghan households are deprived of food secu- rity with no clear borderline or acceptable food consumption sources, where most male relay on daily wages, are now strug- gling as quarantine with longer term economical implications has been placed. The stress of finding food for the family cou- pled with the tension of contracting COVID-19 and its expenses, has resulted in an increase in domestic abuse and in most cases male onto female violence.
Although GBV survivors are not limited only to women, within the Afghan context the overwhelming number of reported GBV survivors are Afghan women and girls, this trend continues to be evident as shown in our data being gathered from the 27 Family Protection Centers (FPCs) in 22 provinces. According to the 2015 Afghanistan Demographic Health Survey, 52 percent of ever-married women have suffered from spousal violence, whether it be 46 percent from physical violence, six percent from sexual violence and 34 percent from emotional violence, while 53 percent of them have experienced physical violence since the age of 15. The survey also indicates that 16 percent of women aged 15-49 reported experiencing violence during pregnancy. 80 percent of ever-married women and 72 percent of ever-married men believed that a husband is justified in beating his wife under certain circumstances.
COVID-19 in Afghanistan has disrupted the informal labor sector, which makes up the largest percentage of employment in Afghanistan, particularly day laborers, and has impacted Afghan’s unemployment rate and purchasing power with increases in basic commodities such as flour, oil and eggs (to name a few). This has undoubtable led to an increase in all forms of GBV (economic deprivation, physical abuse, emotional abuse and psychological abuse) by means of adding stress and tension at the community and household level. Data being gathered from UNFPA’s Family Protection Centers (FPCs) highlights that the COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating the situation of GBV throughout Afghanistan. As social distancing measures are put in place and people are encouraged to stay at home, the space for afghan women and girls has particularly shrunk; limiting their contact with family and friends who may provide emotional, psychosocial and tangible support and/or protection from vio- lence. This creates an environment ripe for perpetrators of GBV to exercise power and control with impunity over Afghan women and girls specifically.