Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Nadia Murad said that COVID-19 pandemic has “increased the risk of exploitation and brutality” faced by women. Referring to global reports regarding a steep rise in incidences of domestic violence during the pandemic, she said that women’s safety and health was on the line due to it.
Murad made the comment while speaking virtually at a UN meeting on Monday titled “Locked Down and Locked-In: Standing Against Sexual Violence and Human Trafficking during the Covid-19 Pandemic.” At the meeting, the 27-year old activist raised an alarm on how the coronavirus pandemic has increased gender-based violence and trafficking “against those most vulnerable.”
Nadia Murad, who herself was forced into sexual slavery by Islamic State fighters in Iraq, said curfews, lockdowns, and travel restrictions which are implemented by governments to control the spread of the virus “have had unintended consequences on women worldwide.” She further added that several countries have reported higher cases of gender-based violence during this period. Tensions have intensified in confined living spaces, and stay-at-home orders “are increasing human trafficking farther underground, out of sight of law enforcement,” said Murad, as quoted by Deccan Herald.
Speaking on the lack of preparedness to tackle crimes against women, the activist also said that “The few resources designated for prevention, rescue, and rehabilitation are being stretched thin.” As a result, women are unable to access psychological support and health care.
The virtual meeting was organised by Nadia’s Initiative which is a non-profit organisation founded by the activist in 2018. The organisation advocates for rights of survivors of sexual violence and aims to rebuild communities in crisis, along with UN Women and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. Through the meeting, Murad, who is also the goodwill ambassador for trafficking survivors, noted that Monday was International Women Human Rights Defenders Day and expressed the urgent need to combat gender-based violence.
The head of UN Women, Mlambo-Ngcuka, said that 72 percent of trafficking victims detected globally are women and girls and, 77 percent of the identified female survivors were trafficked for sexual exploitation. She further added that the COVID-19 pandemic will push 47 million more women and girls into extreme poverty, “but business is booming for the traffickers.” She also said the pandemic has reduced access to health care and compromised the capacity of governments and the United Nations “to report on violations, provide protection and combat impunity, as quoted by The Tribune.
146 countries had responded to the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ call for measures to prevent violence against women and girls and promote “peace in the home” as part of their plans to tackle COVID-19. Citing this response Ngucka called for urgent global action against the increased violence against women.
About Nadia Murad
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Nadia Murad belongs to Iraq’s Yazidi minority. In 2014 she was trafficked, captured, and forced into sexual slavery by Islamic militants. The militants also killed her mother and six brothers. She became an activist on behalf of women and girls after escaping and finding refuge in Germany. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018 alongside Congolese gynaecologist Denis Mukwege.
Arunima Sharma is an intern with SheThePeople.TV.