As cases of COVID-19— the disease caused by the new coronavirus —increase worldwide, the emotional, physical and mental toll is also growing. With several countries including Uganda introducing mandatory lockdowns and restrictions on movements to curb the spread of COVID-19, survivors of Gender Based Violence (GBV) are finding themselves trapped in their homes with their abusers. They are also likely to find themselves facing more extreme forms of violence.

"We know lockdowns and quarantines are essential to suppressing COVID-19. But they can trap women with abusive partners," Guterres said in a video message on April 5. "For many women and girls, the threat looms largest where they should be safest - in their own homes.”

Because many GBV service providers may not be physically reachable because of restrictions caused by Covid-19, this crisis provides an opportunity for us to deploy innovative strategies to virtually support survivors who are under quarantine or lockdown.

For UNFPA Uganda, one of the innovative ways we are doing this is through the SafePal app. The SafePal app is a digital platform that enables survivors of Gender Based Violence to report cases confidentially.  SafePal was created by a group of young people with support from UNFPA, to respond to the challenge of the low levels of reporting gender based violence.

With the spread of Covid-19, survivors are finding it hard to seek help, and are left isolated from the people and the resources that could help them. Health systems are becoming overloaded, making it more difficult for survivors to access medical care in physical spaces.

Through the SafePal platform, survivors are virtually linked to service providers for support including psychosocial, legal and medical services.  Service providers include Action Aid, Naguru Teenage Centre and Centre for Domestic Violence Prevention (CEDOVIP) as well as the Uganda Police Child and Family Protection Unit.

How to use the Safepal App to report Gender Based Violence

You can access SafePal using either a smartphone or a computer. On your smart phone , download the app from Google Play Store or browse using www.safepal.co from a computer
To report, click on the report icon, and start the reporting process.
You will be  required to fill in a few details; the most crucial one being a  telephone number that  a service provider will  use to reach you
When a case is submitted, SafePal instantly notifies the relevant service provider on phone and email so that they can get to the case within the shortest time possible.
Incident reports submitted are usually attended to within 72 hours.

Full story here on UNFPA Uganda website.

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