UN agency to discuss increased risk of violence against women during COVID-19 in Arab states

DUBAI: Regional United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) will organize a virtual symposium on the rise in risk of violence against women and girls during the coronavirus pandemic. The UNFPA’s Arab States Regional Office will organize the one-hour virtual event for journalists and media professionals in the region, according to their statement. The UNFPA – which is the United Nations organization that specialized in sexual and reproductive health – will live-stream the symposium on Facebook from 12 p.m. until 1 p.m on Thursday, June 18. “Organizations working to combat gender-based violence worldwide have issued an unsettling amount of reports showing that more violence is occurring against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic,” UNFPA Arab States Regional Director, Luay Shabeneh, said in a statement. “Given that many of these reports have come from Arab State organizations, it is vital for journalists in the region to not only increase coverage of this issue but to do so in a professional, survivor-centered manner,” the statement read. The event will focus on connections between health crises, gender equality and gender-based violence, the statement added. UNFPA data shows that several of the measures used to control viral outbreaks increase risk of gender-based violence by limiting the abilities of “survivors to distance themselves from their abusers” as well as limiting or severing the “survivors’ access to life-saving support.” Gender-based violence specialists, service providers in crisis countries, women’s rights activists and others will also take part in the event.

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