Women and Girls Face Dire Consequences During the COVID-19 Outbreak!

Measures to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic—though necessary—have ushered in a host of adverse (if unintended) effects on the population of northern Uganda and beyond. Notably, an increase in gender-based violence (GBV), forced marriage and sexual exploitation.

What’s become increasingly clear is that there are very few social safety nets to support those whose lives have been upended by sudden confinement to the home, particularly girls and women. At WGEF’s Gulu Women’s Resource Center, we have registered hundreds of cases of domestic violence, a majority of which are related to sexual violence against children.

In one child protection assessment, impoverished girls are being pushed further into poverty during lockdown, increasingly trading sex for money, food, and even sanitary towels. We are also seeing an increase in child marriage, as adolescent girls are being married in exchange for dowry or bride price. Many children are scared at home.

While children are not considered to be at highest risk of contracting COVID-19, they are extremely vulnerable to secondary social and economic impacts, which could affect them long after lockdown measures have been eased. WGEF believes this critical issue requires urgent action and an expanded focus to protect the lives and futures of millions of young women!

To respond to this escalating need and reverse these dangerous trends, WGEF is seeking additional resources to achieve the following:

  1. Provide intervention, mediation, and support for young women and girls affected by child marriage and sexual violence; facilitate dialogue between community, families, and leaders
  2. Create awareness campaigns targeting the dangers of child marriage and early pregnancy through radio talk shows and printing/distributing
  3. Strengthen community-based advocacy and activism around human rights and justice.

Take action and support this initiative – Girls are out of school and at risk for early marriage, sexual exploitation, hunger and hopelessness. Together we can change this!

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