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Urgent need to prioritise the fight against GBV & FGM amidst COVID-19 response

Statement by UNFPA Somalia Representative Mr. Anders Thomsen on the need to prioritise the fight against GBV and FGM amidst COVID-19 response

Mogadishu, 28 July 2020 – Now is the time to ensure that interventions for the prevention, mitigation and response to Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) receive priority attention in Somalia as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to take a staggering toll on vulnerable communities especially women, girls and internally displaced persons (IDPs).

A newly released “GBV/FGM Rapid Assessment Report - in the context of COVID-19 Pandemic in Somalia” indicates that COVID-19 is leading to circumstances which increase the risk of exposure for women and girls to higher levels of both Gender-based violence and Female Genital Mutilation. Measures to contain the spread of the pandemic, including lockdowns, school disruptions, present opportunities for girls to be subjected to FGM with ample healing time. These measures restrict women’s ability to engage in livelihood activities thereby reducing family incomes, which has contributed to increasing tensions and intimate partner violence in households and families.

“The release of this new report must be a call to all stakeholders including donors and humanitarian actors come together to ensure that GBV services such as clinical management of rape, psychosocial counselling, hotline services and shelter provision continue to be treated as essential service during and beyond COVID-19. It is critical to ensure that equipment, infrastructure and staff necessary to ensure that these services are safe and available are prioritized to meet the needs of vulnerable women and girls including GBV survivors and girls at risk of FGM,” said UNFPA Somalia Representative Mr. Anders Thomsen.

Mr. Thomsen reiterated a call on the Government of Somalia to pass the Sexual Offences Bill and act expeditiously to end the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) across the country.

The GBV/FGM rapid assessment was organized and undertaken by the GBV Area of Responsibility (GBV AoR) to generate data and information on the impact of COVID-19 on GBV/FGM incidents and GBV service provision. UNFPA leads the GBV AoR. The assessment also interrogated factors around COVID-19 and stigmatization, access to health services for women and adolescent girls and the impact of the pandemic on schooling for adolescents’ boys and girls.

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UNFPA inquiries: please contact Ms. Pilirani Semu-Banda, Communications and Partnerships Specialist, UNFPA Somalia, Tel: +254 734500439; semu-banda@unfpa.org