Webinar #8: Updates from Around the Globe

82943GNWS COVID-19 Webinar Series

Speakers

  • Fatima Outaleb – Morocco
  • Ranjana Kumari – India
  • Onika Mars – Trinidad & Tobago
  • Vera Vieira – Brazil

Staffed by:

  • Ashley Slye – US NNEDV
  • Cindy Southworth – NNEDV

MENA

Fatima Outaleb talked about how the coronavirus crisis has dramatically increased domestic violence in Arab cities which were suddenly locked down and are ill-equipped to deal with the shutdown of travel and communication.

Women mainly work in the unstructured economy so do not have authorization to go out to work. However, men more than women are able to claim financial aid. Yet women have to find food and support their families.

The Ministry of Justice’s claim than domestic violence had gone down was exposed by activist who released figures showing reports of domestic violence had more than doubled after the lockdown.

Religious fundamentalist are proliferating rumors that COVID-19 is not real, while at the same time using the crisis to spread misogynistic, reactionary and hateful concepts.

Activists in Morocco used social media to publicize hotlines all over the country. Because of the lobbying work done by the network, the Ministry of Justice has created consultation platforms in local courts.

The pandemic has unveiled how far the MENA region is behind the rest of the world in progress towards gender equality.

Asia

Ranja Kumari talked about the silence of women, family pressure, and structural weaknesses in law enforcement and the justice system. These problems were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many women were already vulnerable are feeling suffocated, isolated and exhausted at now they have no space to breathe at home. Wife beating is very common, and accepted by 52% of women in India.

The National Commission of Women said 92,000 cases were reported to them after lockdown, double the figure before the crisis.

The government was unprepared to deal with the increase in domestic violence, and the virus response has been gender blind and shelters have been closed.

North America and the Caribbean

Onika Mars speaking from Trinidad and Tobago talked about how her organization, Women of Substance, has been working together with the police’s Gender-Based Violence Unit in response to the spike in domestic violence.

Women of Substance in partnership with another NGO is supplying free meals and food hampers to people affected, including single mothers.

So far Trinidad and Tobago only has 116 cases and 8 deaths. So far the government has handled the situation very well.

Latin America

Vera Vieira started by saying more than 50% of Brazil’s population of 200 million are of African descent, and they are suffering more from the pandemic. Yesterday over 1,000 people died from COVID-19.

The president is irresponsibly encouraging people to go back to work, and puts economic recovery above protecting people’s lives.

Domestic violence has increase 30%. Confinement has revealed the reality of sexual division of labor, in which women are responsible for most domestic work. Vera concluded that the future of Brazil is tragic.