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During the 16 days of activisms, my life partner said to me: Let’s work towards ending gender-based violence virtually!

Written by Bianca Baldo

We have all heard the alarming findings that global gender-based violence statistics are on the rise. Even before the COVID-19 Pandemic began, UN Women estimates that 1 in 3 women experienced physical or sexual violence, mostly by an intimate partner. Instances of domestic violence helpline calls and domestic and family violence reports have risen, given the circumstances of lockdowns, curfews, and lack of access to support services and community resources. The burden of COVID-19 is being disproportionately faced by members of the 2SLGBTQ+, Indigenous, racialized, ethnic minority, disabilities, and rural communities in Canada.

In response to this Shadow Pandemic, defined as gender-based violence resulting from the current Pandemic, this year’s 16 days of activism is more important than ever. Its theme is Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!, highlighting how the burden of gender inequality, economic hardship, and social isolation are being carried by the most marginalized groups of women and members of the 2SLSGBTQ+  communities. To support this campaign, our team has decided to share a few ways for you to contribute towards a world that breaks through fear, silence, and isolation by sharing information and by supporting virtual initiatives against gender-based violence.

Recognize the signal for help and offer support silently. With the current Pandemic and its isolation protocols, survivors of gender-based violence can find it hard to leave the house and seek help against their aggressors.  The Canadian Women Foundation designed the “Signal for Help” campaign, which developed a  simple one-handed sign someone can use on a video call if they fear or are being subjected to violence. The idea is to provide the person with a way to silently show they need help and want someone to safely check in with them.

Know your local resources. In many situations, survivors of violence feel like there are few ways out of an abusive situation. Friends and family ofte