To add to all the current pandemic stress, United Nations Population Fund projected a grave concern earlier this week. With the majority of the people across the world in lockdown right now, the UNFPA expressed the alarming possibility of seven million unwanted pregnancies in case this lockdown lasts for another six months.
Here’s what the study says: “The new assessment foresees two ways the pandemic could contribute to more gender-based violence. The first is through disruptions in programmes to prevent violence and provide services, care and support to survivors. The second is through increased total acts of violence as lockdowns keep women inside with their abusers and as households endure stressors like economic turmoil.” The study further suggests that “For every three months the lockdown continues, an additional 15 million extra cases of gender-based violence are expected.”
The organisation’s data explicitly cites that over 47 million women in more than 114 low and middle-income countries across the world currently lie at risk of sexual abuse and unwanted pregnancies during the lockdown. Dr Natalia Kanem, UN Population Fund’s Executive Director shared in a recent media statement that “This new data shows the catastrophic impact that COVID-19 could soon have on women and girls globally. The pandemic is deepening inequalities, and millions more women and girls now risk losing the ability to plan their families and protect their bodies and their health.”
Just earlier this month, National Commission for Women shared data showing a steep rise in violence against women has been registered during the lockdown period. NCW’s Chairperson Rekha Sharma had also said in a media statement earlier that the rising number of domestic violence cases can be attributed to the fact that this lockdown has, in fact, put the abuser and the victim together in one confined space.
However, it doesn’t seem to end just here. The UNFPA report further states that the current lockdown is expected to severely disrupt the efforts being done for women and children’s welfare. With a significant fall in the awareness activities against child marriage and Female Genital Mutilation, a severe spike in the number of cases in the coming years is also being anticipated.
The situation appears rather grim with the medical infrastructures crumbling under the pandemic pressure and women thus forced to skip their regular medical checkups. This is bound to put women and their reproductive health under further pressure.
In the lack of any substantial authority or systems in place, the oppressor can only be expected to get more aggressive with the passing of the time if the lockdown gets extended any further. Needless to say, the government and women’s agencies need to come up with drastic steps to curb the issue and support women in these already grim times.
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