Webinar #11: Heading Off the Risk of Exploitation


GNWS COVID-19 Webinar Series


  • Matcha Phorn-in – Sangsan Anakot Yaowachon, Thailand
  • Ghida Anani – ABAAD, Lebanon
  • Adine Samadi – ROKS, Sweden
  • Nafula “Faith” Wafula – Brydges Centre, Kenya

Staffed by:

  • Ashley Slye – National Network to End Domestic Violence, USA
  • Anthony Carlisle – Garden of Hope, Taiwan


Matcha works at the Thai/Myanmar border and she works with stateless people in Thailand. In Thailand, indigenous groups are marginalized – they are not given ID cards so they cannot travel, work, or get an education. If girls can’t go to school, they often get married at underage. Matcha has tried for the past 15 years to ensure that girls go to school. During this time, 4,000 girls have learned about human rights and over 1,000 of them went to university.

COVID has caused the indigenous populations to run out of food, have no money or access to health care. Many cannot go to hospital because of language barrier or because they cannot pay hospital fees since the Thai healthcare system doesn’t cover these people. Four people have died within her community already this month. Matcha wishes to launch a fundraising campaign to raise money for the family of COVID victims. She is also seeking help from the government and planning to visit Parliament with an indigenous girl to request them to take action in response to the emergency and prevent the deaths of more native people during the pandemic.


Racism and prejudice towards refugees has resurfaced during the pandemic. Syrians are accused of bringing COVID to Lebanon.  Furthermore, the lockdown has isolated Syrian women refugees from essential services. 

Syrian women refugees caught in domestic violence situations are unable to leave their abusers because of the pandemic. Atrocities, such as honor killings, have increased since the outbreak. Even if she didn’t have COVID, men didn’t want women to live for 14 days with strange people in isolation without having access to her, leading to cases of femicide or threatening to kill her.

Currently, the asylum system in Lebanon is overwhelmed. Embassies consider that the crisis is not their problem and will not pay for the return tickets for refugees’ to their countries if they’re deported. In response to the crisis, ABAAD has made food kits with some essential items, and included a booklet with hotline numbers and advice on how to deal with domestic violence.


Sweden hasn’t had the same kind of lockdown as other countries but hasseen differences with women who seek help. The shelters are quiet with less visits and phone calls. ROKS have a close relationship with the police and the reports are lower than usual.  Violence is mostly digital, sexual violence and cases of prostitution where young women have either been offered/forced.

Elderly women are also at risk because they don’t have social media and thus cannot access support networks, such as the chat for women’s shelters or the new app. ROKs have requested money from the Swedish Government to build up resources and help women post pandemic.


The Kenyan Government’s response has involved a curfew, but not a full lockdown. A lot of people have lost their jobs, Kenya is largely driven by informal sector employment so that’s been tough for the economy.

There has been a huge number of cases of sexual and gender based violence., with a 40% increase since March (this is the number of reported cases from the hotline and police stations). However, the true  situation is expected to be much worse because domestic violence is normalized and often under-reported. 

In the slums, social workers say they have 4 cases a day of  domestic violence. 65 girls interviewed in a slum said they had experienced/heard about domestic violence. Transactional sex has drastically increased to pay for food. Teenage pregnancy has drastically increased – one county had 4,000 cases of teenage pregnancy from what the government was able to collect. Kenya has also seen an increase in child marriage as families struggle with finances, so girls are seen as a source of income. The government’s response has been to ban pornography because they believe this is the cause of teen pregnancies.

There is only one government-funded shelter in the country, the rest are run by NGOs. Gender based violence ends up falling by the wayside as the government prioritizes the COVID response. Rescuers can’t rescue women after curfew.  Nafula is currently trying to reach grassroots organizations to give more aid to these women.

Previous Webinar Recordings

17 June 2020: https://youtu.be/mLEICnVTMNA

3 June 2020: https://youtu.be/aymp8kklfw4

20 May 2020: https://bit.ly/GNWS_8

6 May 2020: https://youtu.be/k2h0XGANrHM

29 April 2020: https://bit.ly/GNWS_6

22 April 2020: https://bit.ly/serving_survivors

15 April 2020: https://bit.ly/GNWS_4

8 April 2020: https://bit.ly/GNWSTech

1 April 2020: https://bit.ly/316uCpk

25 March 2020: https://bit.ly/30YhOBb

Provide Feedback on Webinars 

This brief 2-3 minute survey will help the GNWS develop future webinars in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. We appreciate your feedback.


Register for Upcoming Webinars

Heading Off the Risk of Exploitation

After natural disasters we know the risk of exploitation rises. What we don’t know is how the COVID-19 pandemic will impact the risk of exploitation. This webinar will discuss preparing for the aftermath of the pandemic, ideas for reducing exploitation of vulnerable/targeted populations, and ways NGOs can support exploited individuals.

15 July 2020

7:00 PM Washington, DC | 12:00 AM London, UK | 2:00 AM Istanbul, TU | 4:30 AM Mumbai, IN | 7:00 AM Hong Kong | 9:00 AM Sydney, AU

The link below can help you find the time the webinar will be held in your time zone.


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Global Network of Women’s Shelters Helpline Project

As mentioned on the webinar, GNWS is collecting the national helpline for every country so victims and their friends and family have a place to find accurate support. Even if your country doesn’t have a national helpline, we want to know! In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are also asking about text, chat, and email helplines. Please take a few minutes to complete this brief form so we can continue to update our list of helplines. If you have already completed the form, thank you so much. Your information is greatly appreciated!

Form in English: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc3ykdy9kjBqce58cGvFmpKv6DHiblZNnnWH6m0vmoqcAb67A/viewform

Forma en Español: https://forms.gle/X6Rw6hHM7Lo6SmC57

List of helplines listed on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/safety/domesticviolenceresources