Lessons from the past: Protecting women and girls from violence during COVID-19

COVID-19 has impacted women and girls around the globe in adverse ways. However, little attention has been paid to women and girls in humanitarian settings, those whose safety has already been reduced due to conflict, natural disaster or displacement. For these women and girls, COVID-19 has made them particularly vulnerable to increases in gender-based violence.

This is not the first time we have seen an infectious disease event lead to higher levels of gender-based violence. A similar increase was seen in the 2018 to 2020 Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Communities reported that there were increased incidences of sexual and physical violence, sexual exploitation and abuse.

In a recent paper we examined how the response to the Ebola epidemic failed to protect women and girls from violence. We hope that our analysis provides insights into how we can do better during the COVID-19 pandemic.


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