Predictions modelled by a UN body urges governments around the world to prioritise the needs of women and girls as part of their response to the global health pandemic.
Every three months there could be an additional 15 million women facing gender-based violence, the United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA) has warned in a report published on Tuesday 28 April.
As the world enters its fourth month of lockdown and with little end in sight, the UN is seeking to shine a spotlight on the “enormous scale of the impact Covid-19 is having on women” as medical facilities around the world are pushed to the brink.
“These projections show how catastrophic the impact of Covid-19 could be on women and girls as millions more will be at risk of violence in the home, unintended pregnancies, child marriages and more as the pandemic rages on,” said Alanna Armitage, Director of the UNFPA Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia speaking from Istanbul.
“That’s why women and girls must be at the centre of measures to respond to the crisis,” Armitage added speaking to TRT World.
The report highlighted that with the focus of the world on the coronavirus, strides made towards women’s health and rights may be reversed.
“Maternal healthcare services and access to contraceptives are not optional - these are essential services that must be maintained. And victims and potential victims of domestic violence must be able to access life-saving care and support even during a lockdown” said Armitage.
The UNFPA report warns that 47 million women in 114 low and middle-income countries may lose access to contraceptives resulting in more than 7 million unintended pregnancies.
Governments, therefore, may need to prepare their health services for increased demand in maternal healthcare.
A man-made crisis
Data has been mounting that in countries across the developed world there has been a spike in reported violence towards women.
In France, one of the hardest-hit countries by the pandemic, there has been a reported 30 percent increase in domestic violence cases.
Under a draconian lockdown since mid-March, France has seen almost 170,000 reported coronavirus infections and more than 23,000 confirmed deaths.
Similarly in the UK, there has been a dramatic surge in reported cases of domestic violence with 100 arrests each day for such offences.
Amnesty International has warned the UK government in a statement: “With every day that passes, more and more women are falling victim to this horrific crime.”
There is likely to be a similar pattern of abuse in all countries that have engaged in some level of lockdown with governments around the world being urged to take action and include women’s health and security as part of their fight against the coronavirus.