COVID-19: ‘Put safety of women at the heart of all measures to tackle coronavirus’ says Rapporteur

Countering violence against women must remain a priority for policy-makers and legislators during the COVID-19 crisis, according to Béatrice Fresko-Rolfo (Monaco, ALDE), the General Rapporteur on Violence against Women of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

“As Europe is ravaged by the pandemic, it becomes increasingly clear that this crisis affects women and men differently,” she said in a statement today.

“Evidence and research – including, for example, on the impact of previous outbreaks such as Ebola or Zika - show that women are more exposed to the risk of contagion due to traditional gender roles, social norms and segregation in the labour market, as illustrated by the fact that the vast majority of healthcare workers are women. They are also the principal care providers for children and the elderly.”

“I am particularly concerned that compulsory home confinement and other social distancing measures enforced in several European countries may exacerbate and increase the risk of gender-based violence.”

“As they support the efforts of healthcare services and endeavour to reduce the impact of the crisis on the economy, public authorities should never lose sight of the need to guarantee equality and to protect fundamental human rights.”

“In view of the alarming trend observed in the past few weeks, with a spike in cases of violence against women and difficulties in accessing services and remedies, I call on national authorities to take adequate measures to prevent violence, protect victims and prosecute perpetrators, in line with the principles of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.”

“In spite of the crisis, or because of it, shelters for women victims or those at risk of violence should remain accessible, as should reporting systems and complaints procedures.”

“It is crucial that legislators and policy-makers consider countering violence against women as one of the priority sectors that cannot be neglected or sacrificed in the fight against the current pandemic. The safety of women should be at the heart of all policies and measures.”