United Nations calls for action to prevent violence against women and girls amidst the COVID-19 pandemic
Yangon: The United Nations in Myanmar has called on the Assembly of the Union to adopt a comprehensive Protection and Prevention of Violence against Women Law.
The UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar, Mr Ola Almgren, was speaking at a high-level event marking the International Day to End Violence Against Women and launching 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence.
“The adoption of the Protection and Prevention of Violence against Women law and other gender-responsive legislation would be an important step, as they not only help to protect women and girls from abuse, but also to hold perpetrators of violence accountable,” Mr. Almgren said.
“I am confident that the elected Members of Parliament recognise the significance of this law and will take decisive action towards its timely adoption. Such legislation must be in line with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, ratified by Myanmar already in 1997.”
Mr Almgren was speaking at the online event organized by the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement to highlight the problem of violence against women, which he said had been exacerbated through the COVID-19 crisis.
“There are worrying signs that cases of intimate partner violence have increased especially during times when stay-at-home orders are in place. Lockdown restrictions and working from home arrangements are designed to protect us from the pandemic, but they have unfortunately left many survivors trapped behind closed doors with their abusers.”
Mr Almgren said important progress has been made by the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, and the Ministry of Health and Sports, to develop the response to gender-based violence.
“While these developments are promising, we must continue working together to remove remaining barriers survivors face when trying to access essential services.”
“There is a need to continue existing health care-, justice-, policing- and social services for survivors, while increasing their accessibility in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“At the same time, we also have to scale up gender-based violence prevention and response services, such as hotlines, safe houses, government subsidies, awareness-raising through radio, television and social media.”
“I encourage government agencies and related organizations working on social protection to prioritize resources to respond to incidents of gender-based violence and to develop specific plans on how to respond to such incidents during and after the emergency.”
National Information Officer