If for many of us what to cook and what to watch on Netflix are among our major concerns during the Movement Control Order (MCO), others are stuck with an abusive family member, with nowhere to escape.
Women’s Aid Organisation reported a spike in domestic violence cases since the enforcement of the MCO on 18 March.
From an average of 63 calls and messages they used to receive per week, the number jumped to 234 on the third week of the MCO.
The calls to the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development's (KPWKM)’s hotline had also increased by 57 per cent since MCO.
To help those stuck in an abusive situation, Twitter has partnered with local NGOs in several countries, including Malaysia, under its #ThereIsHelp notification service.
Now, when a person types key words associated with gender-based violence on Twitter, a notification will appear directing them to hotlines of local organisations they can get help from, as well as NGOs that could give them support.
A collaboration with local and international bodies
Twitter had worked with UN Women Asia Pacific, which acted in an advisory role, as well as local NGOs and government agencies that provides critical emergency care, support and counselling in Malaysia and other countries.
UN Women Asia Pacific Regional Manager on Ending Violence against Women Melissa Alvandro said that 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," she said in a press statement.
She added that less than four in 10 women experiencing such violence actually report these crimes or seek help of any sort.
“As lockdowns and stay-at-home orders are getting prolonged by countries around the world to contain the spread of COVID-19, women with violent partners increasingly find themselves isolated from the people and resources that can help them.
“At UN Women, we hear that keeping services open has been hard in many countries. We are pleased to team up with Twitter to help connect women to local services currently available in their countries if they are experiencing violence or abuse,” she said.
In Malaysia, Twitter has collaborated with two NGOs that deals with domestic violence — Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) and All Women’s Action Society (AWAM).
AWAM’s Programmes and Operations Manager Nisha Sabanayagam said that 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, Sexual Harassment and other forms of gender-based 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 said.
We hope that this effort by Twitter and its partners will help at least some of the victims to get the help they need.