Submission to the UN Special Rappporteur on VAW

July 4, 2020

The 30th of June 2020, I submitted a report to the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, its Causes and Consequences, Ms. Dubravka Šimonović, following her call for submissions.

As indicated on the OHCHR website, the Special Rapporteur is following the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on women’s right to a life free from violence closely. In a statement of March this year, she already shared the following: “It is very likely that rates of widespread domestic violence will increase, as already suggested by initial police and hotline reports. For too many women and children, home can be a place of fear and abuse. That situation worsens considerably in cases of isolation such as the lockdowns imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

To that end, the Special Rapporteur invited civil society, States, National Human Rights Institutions, international organisations, academia and other stakeholders to send all relevant information on the increase of VAW in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Since we took the initiative – at a very early stage of the pandemic – to organize a webinar series on the impact of Covid-19 on our efforts to end Female Genital Mutilation/cutting (FGM/C), I have collected quite a lot of information and was able to conduct in-depth interviews and to conduct further research. This allowed me to provide a solid answer to questions 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 of the UN Special Rapporteur, as these themes have been discussed in-depth in the past three months among participants of the webinar series.

Another reason why I submitted this report is that there tends to be a lot of attention for domestic violence in times of Covid-19, but less attention for FGM/C, while millions of girls are currently at risk due to the pandemic. My last sentence in my submission was “[…] it is therefore crucial that addressing FGM/C will be at the center of all plans on Covid-19 response.”  I hope that my contribution will help to have FGM/C covered as a topic / form of VAW in the report of the Special Rapporteur on VAW that will be presented to the General Assembly in October 2020.

It was great to receive a message from the Office of the UN Special Rapporteur a few days later with the message: “Thank you very much for the submission, it is very much appreciated, and will be shared with the Special Rapporteur.”

My submission will be made publicly available on the OHCHR website, but for those of you who are interested to read it already, you can download my report here.