This Guidance Note aims to provide actions to be considered for ensuring GBV service provision in the time of COVID-19 with its heightened risks. While GBV partners will be receiving updates on a regular basis through the sector email, GBV partners are strongly recommended to regularly check https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019 and https://ncdc.gov.ng/news/237/update-on-covid-19-in-nigeria for timely updates on the situation.
Background: COVID-19 and GBV As in any other emergency situation, it is expected that vulnerabilities of women and girls, as well as survivors would increase with the outbreak of COVID-19, which would further lead to the increased GBV risks.
GBV survivors may experience challenges accessing services due to movement and access constraints, or resources may be diverted for the health interventions.
The potential low or loss of household income may have a long term economic impact on women compared to men1 and may increase the risk of exploitation and sexual violence. Financial challenges due to limited livelihood opportunities during the lockdown may increase tensions in households, which may fuel domestic violence and other forms of GBV2 .
The crisis may pose additional burdens on women and girls as caregivers to the children, the sick and the elderly with chronic diseases in the family, and may increase their risks of COVID-19 infection.
The overcrowded housing conditions in the camps may also exacerbate the risks of women and girls’ caregivers to COVID-19 infection.
The closure of schools may expose girls to additional caregiving roles, which may also expose them to COVID-19 infection. Children separated from their caregivers may be exposed to exploitation and abuse.
Family separation during the COVID-19 outbreak may lead to an increase in the number of femaleheaded household and may add a financial burden on them.
Life-saving services for GBV survivors like clinical management of rape may be suspended or interrupted as the service providers may be overwhelmed with the response for the COVID-19 cases or due to movement restrictions.
Pregnant women and girls may face more challenges in accessing health care services, especially for those who are locked down at camps.
Access to safe shelters may be challenging for survivors that require the service, due to the lockdown and movement restrictions. Women and Girls Friendly Spaces and/or safe spaces may also be converted into isolation centres.