Nobel Laureate Says Pandemic Raising Violence, TraffickingDecember 20, 2020
UNITED NATIONS — Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nadia Murad said the coronavirus pandemic has increased trafficking of women and gender-based violence, leaving the health and safety of women “on the line.”
The 27-year-old activist, who was forced into sexual slavery by Islamic State fighters in Iraq, said curfews, lockdowns and travel restrictions imposed by governments to slow the spread of the virus “have had unintended consequences on women worldwide.”
“Rather than reducing human trafficking and gender-based violence, the pandemic has increased the risk of exploitation and brutality against those most vulnerable,” she said. “Numerous countries have seen increases in reports of domestic violence since the pandemic began.”
Murad said domestic tensions have intensified in confined living spaces, and stay-at-home orders “are increasing human trafficking farther underground, out of sight of law enforcement.”
“The few resources designated for prevention, rescue and rehabilitation are being stretched thin,” she said. “As a result, women’s health and safety are on the line. It is now difficult for many women to access psychological support (and) health care.”
A member of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, Murad was among thousands of women and girls who were captured and forced into sexual slavery by Islamic State militants in 2014. Her mother and six brothers were killed by IS fighters in Iraq. She became an activist on behalf of women and girls after escaping and finding refuge in Germany and shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018.
Murad spoke virtually at a U.N. meeting Monday titled “Locked Down and Locked-In: Standing Against Sexual Violence and Human Trafficking during the COVID-19 Pandemic.” It was organized by Nadia’s Initiative, the nonprofit organization she founded in 2018 that advocates for survivors of sexual violence and aims to rebuild communities in crisis, along with UN Women and the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
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