Here’s to YOU, if home is no longer a safe haven…
You are not alone and you deserve help. So please, make your voices heard and call your local helpline for domestic violence.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has repeatedly said that the recent global lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a horrifying surge in gender-based violence (GBV), which further deepens existing gender inequalities given the burden of caring for other vulnerable individuals at home - such as young children and sick elderly family members, which falls disproportionately on women.
Twitter has now launched a dedicated gender-based violence search prompt for hotlines and support in local languages for the Asia Pacific region.
The #ThereIsHelp notification service on mental health and suicide prevention, vaccination, child sexual exploitation, and COVID-19 was built in close partnership with UN Women Asia Pacific, who played an advisory role as well as leading the NGOs and government agencies that provide critical emergency care and support and counseling. This service is now available in Malaysia, and several other APAC countries including Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, and Vietnam.
Users can search for keywords associated with gender-based violence on Twitter, and they will see a notification in their local language directing them to the hotlines of the local organizations where they can seek help, together with a lot of other NGOs that can provide the support they may need.
UN Women reported that 243 million women and girls aged 15-49 globally have been subjected to sexual and/or physical violence perpetrated by an intimate partner in the past 12 months. Emerging data shows that since the outbreak of COVID-19, violence against women and girls, and particularly gender-based violence, has intensified across the globe.
Melissa Alvarado, UN Women Asia Pacific Regional Manager on Ending Violence Against Women, said: “Violence against women and girls across Asia Pacific is pervasive but at the same time widely under-reported. Globally, one in three women experience violence at least once in their lifetime. In fact, in many countries in our region, the number is even greater, with as many as 2 out of 3 women in some countries reporting experiences of violence.”
In Malaysia, Twitter has partnered with trusted national NGO partners in an effort to provide services via the referrals of the #ThereIsHelp service as follows:
1. Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) is a Malaysian NGO that provides free shelter, counselling, and crisis support to women and children who experience abuse.
2. All Women’s Action Society (AWAM) is a feminist non-profit organization based in Malaysia working on a local and national level to address Gender-Based Violence (GBV) such as rape, sexual harassment and workplace discrimination while envisioning and working towards substantive equality while recognising the unique diversity, intersectionality, and play of power, privilege and other environmental factors.
Ms. Nisha Sabanayagam, Programmes and Operations Manager of All Women’s Action Society (AWAM) said, “The Malaysia Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development (KPWKM) hotlines have reported a 57% increase in calls while orders aimed at controlling movement are in effect. Right now there is a great need to put women and girls at the center of all policies in order to ensure that their access to funds, support, and most importantly, channels to address domestic violence and inequality.”
“While the pandemic affects everyone, women and girls are more vulnerable to violence and abuse, including economic factors that disproportionately affect women such as period poverty and wage inequality. Together with Twitter, we are ready to address this pressing problem and support all who are suffering from this violence during this challenging time,” she added.
Be vigilant of your surroundings, look out for your neighbours, your friends and your family members.
Take care of yourself, and know that you are never alone.
By: Aishah Akashah Ahadiat