CAIRO - 2 December 2020: Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Ghada Wali said on Tuesday that the COVID-19 crisis has exposed vulnerabilities and inequality within societies, between regions and countries, adding that many different problems we have faced during the pandemic have affected women in an extremely significant way.
This came during a United Nations session to discuss ways to address gender-based violence and human trafficking during the COVID-19 pandemic, organized by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime with the support of the Permanent Mission of the Federal Republic of Germany to the United Nations and UN Women.
Wali reported that one of three women has already suffered various forms of violence in her lifetime. The majority of female homicide victims die from their spouses or other family members; additionally, more than 60 percent of the victims of human trafficking are women and girls.
Wali added that amid the COVID-19 crisis, women have become more vulnerable to violence and harassment, which increases the risk of women being exposed to human traffickers in light of the lack of enforcement of the law and the criminal justice system.
She called for ensuring that response measures to the epidemic take women into account and work in the interest of women to support their access to justice and basic services and protect their rights.
She urged governments, the private sector, and all spectrums of society to adhere and contribute to this common goal, saying, "Everyone has a role to carry out in the struggle for equal rights and combating gender-based violence."
"Business is growing for human traffickers during epidemic closures," Executive Director of UN Women, Bomzile Mlambo-Nocca, said, adding that two-thirds of anti-trafficking workers have witnessed an increase in the human traffickers' recruitment of victims online for sexual exploitation.
Epidemiological conditions limit access to life-saving health interventions and impair the ability of states and the United Nations to monitor and report violations, as well as provide protection and combat impunity.
Nadia Murad, an ISIS survivor, and Nobel Peace Prize winner, said: “For six years, Yazidis displaced in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps lacked sufficient health care and shelter. For six years, more than 2,800 Yazidi women and children were imprisoned with their assailants. For six years, Yazidi women, men, and children have struggled to recover from genocide and sexual violence. "
She asserted that without comprehensive support to restore even the most essential services to Yezidis in Sinjar, Iraq, there will not be sufficient capacities to address the consequences of sexual violence and human trafficking.
According to the United Nations, 146 countries have already responded to the UN Secretary-General's call for "peace at home" by taking measures to make the prevention of violence against women and girls a key part of the national response plans to the coronavirus.
The session was attended by Goodwill Ambassador to the Office of the United Nations Secretary-general for the Global Fight Against Human Trafficking Mira Sorvino; and American Representative Ashley Judd, Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Population Fund; Australian Actress Nicole Kidman, Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women; Belgian musician Ozark Henry, Goodwill Ambassador Against Human Trafficking to the Office in Belgium; as well as Minister of State at the German Foreign Ministry Michel Montevering.