The Commonwealth and 'NO MORE Foundation', on Wednesday, launched a first-of-its-kind digital portal designed to help tackle increased domestic and sexual violence due to the impacts of COVID-19,
The portal aims to assist governments, organisations and individuals to confront the issue by assisting the development of long-term prevention strategies and provide other modes of support.
A virtual launching ceremony was held, with Commonwealth representatives and advocates from around the world, including Maldives' Minister of Gender, Family and Social Services Aishath Mohamed Didi, in attendance.
"Protection of women and children from domestic and sexual violence must be at the heart of the COVID-19 response, and in everything we do to create a safer, fairer and better world", said Minister Aishath.
As part of the 'Commonwealth Says NO MORE' initiative, the portal provides easy-to-use tools and resources to strengthen efforts in supporting victims of domestic and sexual violence and those at risk.
In addition, it provides those affected by violence to understand and recognise violence, facilitating a one-stop access point for information such as local hotlines, safety plans and legal guidance, which was noted as a "critical service for victims in places where such support is unavailable online or is disrupted by the pandemic", by the Commonwealth.
"It is indisputable that while the virus will pass one day, for many women, the ever-present threat of violence will remain", said Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland, during the launch.
"COVID has emphatically exposed just how urgently we need a cure to flatten the rising curve of domestic and sexual violence. Business-as-usual is not an option".
According to Commonwealth, organisations across the globe have recorded an increased demand for support services, with a rise from between 25 and 300 percent during restrictive measures.
"Even before the pandemic, one in three women across the world are beaten or sexually abused within their lifetime, making it a leading cause of death in woman and girls", reported the organization.
According to Family Protection Authority (FPA) statistics, a total of 111 domestic violence cases were reported over the months of April, May and June in Maldives, amid the lockdown imposed across the Greater Male' Region. Over 70 percent of cases involved violence against women.
Ministry of Gender, Family and Social Services on July 15, launched a three-month national campaign titled ‘Geveshi Gulhun’ to reduce instances of domestic abuse and violence in the country.
The government's national campaign against domestic violence and abuse comes in the wake of several cases on sexual abuse, assault and harassment that were reported recently.
Public ire continues to soar over the government's meagre record of arresting and convicting perpetrators of sexual offences despite several promises to support the rights of children and women.