Every day, all around the globe, women and girls face violence. This form of human rights violation has many different faces and occurs everywhere, in all walks of life, at home, at work, at school, on the street, in sports or online. Violence prevents women and girls from participating fully in political, cultural, social and economic life.

Millions of women in the world experience physical and psychological violence every year. For example, did you know that 1 in 3 women experiences physical or sexual violence, often by a person close to them? That the majority of the victims of human trafficking are women and girls? And in developing countries, 1 in 3 girls are married before the age of 18?

However, the situation has been changing recently.

Over the past couple of decades education and awareness raising initiatives have contributed to halving the number of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) cases in Africa. In South Asia, the percentage of girls married under the age of 15 has also halved.

The recent global women’s movement has highlighted the magnitude of the problem of sexual assault and harassment and given victims the courage to break the silence and stand up for their rights.

But the coronavirus pandemic threatens to set back the much needed progress that has been made. A number of countries reported an increase in domestic violence linked to lockdowns and other restrictions on movement brought in to slow the spread of the deadly virus.

In Afghanistan women are using face coverings during a country-wide lockdown.

In France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Brazil, and China there has been a sharp increase in violence towards women. In Russia, the number of reported incidents is more than double that which was reported before the health crisis.

A week after lockdown began in France, reports were 30% higher than normal. In Germany several municipalities rented hotels to accommodate people fleeing domestic violence.

In Mexico, 8% more women were murdered in the first 3 months of 2020 than in the same period a year earlier. Most reports attribute this to the increase of the coronavirus measures.

Unfortunately, during quarantine women who live with domestic violence have no escape from their abusers making it harder than ever to seek help.

Working from home, home schooling, the closure of valuable social outlets like coffee shops and sports clubs, increased anxiety and financial pressures all contribute to ramping up proximity and the tension within the home.

In order to put an end to this form of gender-based violence, we need to pay more attention to women and girls in vulnerable situations. We must also actively improve education and legislation and change social norms.

Over the coming 16 days, Islamic Relief, together with some 6,000 organisations around the world, are highlighting the problem of violence against women. During this campaign and throughout the year, we are committed to empowering women and girls everywhere through raising awareness, stepping up our activities and campaigns to combat violence against women and working for more equality between men and women.

Islamic Relief is responding to Covid-19 pandemic in more than 20 countries, with a focus on protecting vulnerable children and communities from the impacts of the pandemic and by addressing the increased risk of gender-based violence and harmful practices.

Across the globe in Africa, Middle East and Asia, we are supporting the most vulnerable communities in critical need by providing:

  • Food packs and grants
  • Hygiene kits including hand gloves, masks, toilet rolls, disinfectants and hand sanitisers
  • Awareness-raising materials on how to keep safe
  • Support for healthcare services.


Donate to Islamic Relief’s appeal for Covid-19 and find out more about our response.