By Rayan Efendi, Platform for the Needy Intern – Gender-based violence advocacy officer
The 11th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Science (IAS 2021) has reported that women and girls in Uganda may have had increased HIV exposure as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In Uganda, gender-based violence services were not prioritized as an essential health service, and females have paid the price.
Rose Apondi and colleagues of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have investigated routine program information to analyze results of half -ear time frames: Otober 2019 to March 2020, and April 2020 to September 2020. The group investigated post-rape reports and use of PEP (crisis treatment to forestall HIV contamination) for girls and women of any age from routine well-being records, which included reports of sexual violence and teenage pregnancy among girls under the age of 18 to the Uganda Child Helpline.
Six months prior to the COVID-19 outbreak in Uganda, the number of women who had reported for post-rape care stood at 17,702, of which only 3,274 received PEP. During the COVID-19 pandemic, 22,013 women reported post-rape care, and only 3,348 received PEP. These figures represent a staggering 24% increase in post-rape reports during COVID-19, as well as an 18% reduction in PEP.
Furthermore, these figures statistically detail that the likelihood of receiving PEP during COVID-19 were 0.79 times lower, compared to before.
In the six months leading up to the initial COVID-19 outbreak in Uganda, 593 girls (under 18) reported sexual violence, in comparison to the 860 girls in the first six months of the pandemic outbreak. These figures show that the odds of reporting sexual violence were 1.3 times higher during COVID-19.
However, these statistical figures do not represent the entirety of girls and women who fell victim to gender-based and sexual violence within the given time frame. It is important to remember that a significant number of assaults go unreported. As a result, the realistically expected number of gender-based and sexual violence during the first six months of the COVID-19 outbreak in Uganda is expected to be far larger.