German coalition faces calls to curb violence against women
November 25, 2021
A leading German human rights body has urged the new government to make good on pledges to fight violence against women. This comes amid a major uptick in gender-based violence worldwide owing to COVID lockdown measures.
The German Institute for Human Rights on Thursday welcomed plans by the incoming coalition government to instigate a comprehensive strategy to combat violence against women, calling it "urgently necessary."
"The strategy must be a substantive, structural all-around strategy from prevention to prosecution," said Beate Rudolf, the director of the institute. "It should be guided by the agreement of the Council of Europe on the preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention), which Germany has been obligated to implement since 2018."
"The institute welcomes the unconditional and effective implementation of the Istanbul Convention announced in the coalition agreement," Rudolf went on to say, adding that the government must put in place an independent monitoring body alongside a state-run coordination agency. "Good policies need good data," she said.
The remarks came on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women initiated by the UN General Assembly.
They also came as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced on Twitter that she aims to put forward a proposed law to fight violence against women next spring.
"Violence against one of us is violence against all," she wrote.
The dangers women — and LGBTQ people — across the world face from violence, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic, have also been highlighted in a new report from the British-founded charity confederation Oxfam.
On its website, Oxfam said the report, entitled "The Ignored Pandemic: The Dual Crisis of Gender-Based Violence and COVID-19," had shown an "undeniable increase" in domestic violence during the first months of lockdown as reflected in calls to helplines in 10 countries.
Data in the report showed a rise in calls of 25% in the UK right up to an increase of more than 111% in Malaysia in the early part of 2020. Colombia, South Africa and Italy all recorded rises of over 70%.
"It is a scandal that millions of women and girls, and LGBTQIA+ people have to live through this double pandemic of violence and COVID-19," said Oxfam International Executive Director Gabriela Bucher in remarks cited on the website.
"Gender-based violence has led to injuries, emotional distress, and increasing poverty and suffering, all of which are utterly inexcusable and avoidable. The pandemic has exposed the systematic failure of governments around the world to protect women and girls and LGBTQIA+ people from violence against them – simply because of who they are," she added.
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Germany's development minister, Gerd Müller, has also called on the world to do better in fighting for the rights and opportunities of women, while pointing out the negative impact of the pandemic on women's safety.
"Worldwide, every third woman experiences physical or sexualized violence at least once in her life," he said in a press statement. "The coronavirus crisis has dramatically worsened the situation."
He said Germany was supporting the fight against violence against women with a further €15 million ($16.8 million) that it will provide mostly to local women's rights organizations.
He said his ministry was also increasing its financial support of a UN trust fund aiming to end violence against women and girls and helping fund two African programs, one involved in preventing female genital mutilation (FGM) and the other in preventing violence against females.