Some African countries are reporting of an increase in domestic violence cases during a period of lockdown to deal with coronavirus.
With couples forced to stay indoor with partners without going out, many –women and men are falling victim to abuses.
In Kenya the Human Rights Watch reported of a 16-year-old Kenyan, who was held captive by a man and sexually assaulted.
She was rescued by neighbors and now being cared for in a safe house in Nairobi.
The attacker reportedly said he kidnapped her because he needed female company to get through the government-imposed COVID-19 lockdown.
The Human Rights Watch said “The Kenya government should urgently protect women and girls against violence during this crisis. Its public awareness campaigns should highlight this risk and give detailed information on how victims, including those infected with COVID-19, can access services.”
Victims fear to report in Ghana
In Ghana activists say victims are unable to report cases due to the lockdown and the restriction on movements in two major cities- Accra and Kumasi.
Gender activist Esther Tawiah told Africa Feeds that although there are cases of domestic violence in Ghana, many of the victims are not willing to report to the police.
She said “In Ghana currently, what is happening is that, because people are afraid to come out, alright. So people are not reporting the situation, as they ought to report, you know.”
“So you get bits and pieces of information from people who know the kind of job you do. They will call you and say I’m hearing, this area this is what is going on there and all that. So people are really scared. They don’t want to violate the law” she said.
Tawiah has suggested that Ghana’s government includes strategies to prevent and fight domestic violence in the national response plan to mitigate impact of COVID-19.
Ugandan police have also said that there is a rise in domestic violence cases since the country begun a two-week lockdown.
Police spokesperson Fred Enanga said four suspects had been arrested in connection to murder.
Mr Enanga was quoted in local media reports as saying that the rise in cases was because of people “over-staying at home”.
Countries struggle to deal with domestic violence
South Africa has already confirmed that it has recorded some 2,320 reported cases of violence against women in the first week of the lockdown.
The country already struggles to deal with violence against women with rape a major challenge.
There have been several cases of women including girls being raped and in some instances to death during the lockdown in South Africa.
The United Nations is asking the international community to include domestic violence prevention plans in their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Addressing a virtual news briefing at the UN headquarters Secretary-General António Guterres said there has been a sharp rise in domestic violence cases as countries announce a lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19.
“For many women and girls, the threat looms largest where they should be safest — in their own homes,” he said, appealing “for peace at home — and in homes — around the world.”
“We know lockdowns and quarantines are essential to suppressing COVID-19, but they can trap women with abusive partners,” Guterres said.
The secretary-general said in some countries the number of women calling support services has doubled while healthcare providers and police are overwhelmed and understaffed.
Peace is not just the absence of war. Many women under lockdown for #COVID19 face violence where they should be safest: in their own homes.
Today I appeal for peace in homes around the world.
I urge all governments to put women’s safety first as they respond to the pandemic. pic.twitter.com/PjDUTrMb9v
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) April 6, 2020