During disease outbreaks, GBV survivors may experience challenges accessing services due to limited movement and access constraintsto life-saving services. In some situations, the state may prioritize health interventions, hence resources may be diverted to the health interventions. Consequently, under these circumstances, the provision of direct lifesaving GBV case management/PSS and timely referrals for specialized services may be a challenge for the service providers as well as users.
Globally there is a lack of statistical data to establish plausible impact of the disease outbreaks on different forms of GBV including domestic violence and harmful traditional practices. However, based on the anecdotal evidences shared by the front-line workers as well as survivors of GBV from past outbreaks (including Ebola), it is easy to argue that under such disease outbreaks, the vulnerabilities of certain groups including but not limited to women and girls, elderly, people living with disabilities, refugees and IDPs are exposed because of the widespread consequences and implications including health, socio-economic, political, to religious and cultural, etc. Family members living in the same house or area (in the case of curfew or lockdown) are left with little means and sources of income, socially restricted to move, emotionally and psychologically tensed and challenged.
The aforementioned situation may increase the likelihood of tensions in households which may fuel domestic violence and other forms of GBV. Therefore, ensuring the continuity of GBV lifesaving interventions including case management, PSS/counseling, and referral for services should be a priority so that appropriate services are provided to survivors in a timely, safe and dignified manner.
In the context of COVID-19 outbreak in Iraq, it is recommended to adopt remote modality for case management services which this guidance note proposes for the outbreak period. This document further provides guidance to case workers on how best to adopt the remote GBV case management processes during the COVID-19 outbreak, in line with the GBV minimum standards for prevention and response, Guiding Principles of confidentiality, safety, non-discrimination and respect for the survivor as well as the adoption and adherence to survivor-centered approaches.