Hosting a webinar on ‘Impact of COVID-19 on Women and Initiatives Taken by NWC and Nepal Police in Addressing Gender Based Violence Issues’ on Sunday, the National Women Commission (NWC) informed that women and children faced the brunt of emotional, economic, physical and sexual violence during the four-month national lockdown.

NWC’s conclusion comes from the data extracted from its 24 hours toll-free helpline (1145) established to receive complaints from victims of violence and provide necessary consultation to them.

The helpline is being run in coordination with the various agencies, mainly Nepal Police. NWC said it received 1,267 calls from Gender Based Violence survivors during those four months.

Bagmati Province recorded the highest number of calls with 448 calls to the helpline with most victims aged between 26 and 40 years.

Cases of violence included rape, marital rape, murder, character assassination, polygamy, sexual harassment, physical assault and psychological torture, mostly perpetrated by family members and close acquaintances, were reported, informed NWC.

Women were also denied their rights to reproductive health.

Most affected were women working in the informal sector after they lost jobs due to the pandemic.

“Lack of gender-friendly policies resulted in economic, social and health impacts on women and children. Pregnant women had difficulty in receiving relief packages. Restriction on mobility put women at higher risk during the lockdown,” NWC said.

“There is a need to facilitate GBV survivors’ access to essential services such as health, psycho-social counselling, security and justice.”