Addis Ababa (Agenzia Fides) - Among the harmful effects that the pandemic has caused in the world is the marked increase in abuse against women and children, exposed to violence due to the domestic confinement imposed by the lockdown and the general situation of lack of work, impoverishment and food insecurity. In Africa, where numerous wars are fought and where there are the poorest Countries or the most crowded slums on the planet, the reasons behind the increase in abuse are probably multiplying more than elsewhere.
In Ethiopia the situation is alarming. Already in June, the "Women and Children Affairs Bureau" noted the "worrying context" with a marked increase in girls who are raped and stressed that the closure of schools has favored the multiplication of unreported rapes. The Catholic Church, worried by the growing number of violence against women or minors during the anti-Covid-19 confinement phases, took the field. Last June 24 it hosted a meeting that intended to support the #Zim Alilim ("I will not keep quiet") campaign initiated by some of Ethiopia’s popular artists and wanted to solicit awareness on the phenomenon. At the meeting, representatives of the Church and men involved in the field of culture and art again denounced the increase in abuse and also early marriage cases that have occurred since schools closed prematurely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Church has declared herself totally at the disposal of the campaign and ready to make every effort to increase awareness and raise awareness among institutions and society. Training programs, workshops and support meetings for parents will be activated in July. Religious leaders were asked to provide all possible support for the campaign, given the profound recognition of their role in Ethiopian society.
The phenomenon has also been object of observation and research by the regional office of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) for West and Central Africa. The Fund confirmed the impact of Covid-19 on gender-based violence in West and Central Africa, noting an increase in violence. According to UNFPA, there was a 35% increase in Mali, while a survey conducted in Cameroon noted an increase in the risks of domestic and sexual violence in 62% of the cases of women surveyed. (LA) (Agenzia Fides, 11/7/2020)