Women, children and persons with disability vulnerable
Women, children and persons with disability continue to be the most vulnerable to gender-based violence during the COVID-19 pandemic.
That is the view of the Samoa Victim Support [S.V.S.G.] when assessing cases that have been lodged with them in the last four months.
According to a statement released by the humanitarian organisation, children are either directly affected through physical, verbal, emotional or sexual abuse while others are abandoned or experience starvation to be indirectly affected as they witness violence between their parents at home.
And while children often end up becoming victimised, the S.V.S.G. said children are also the most resilient and have become the voices for their abused parents during these unprecedented times.
A help telephone line has been set up to offer victim support, which children and the most vulnerable are able to access to get support at any time.
Roadside billboards that display the Help Line number 80007874 also raises awareness on accessing support 24 hours a day.
The S.V.S.G. has revealed that there have been instances when children called their office when they have been abused, their parents are fighting and even when they have no food.
They are also the first ones to greet the S.V.S.G. response team when it visits the families to evacuate an abused victim or to deliver welfare relief packages.
The S.V.S.G. also said its ability to deliver prompt responsive services such as victim evacuation, referral to hospital or to the police for severe cases, counselling or shelter have been well supported during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Besides the relief packages distributed to the families impacted by the socio-economic challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, counselling sessions are also offered for walk-in clients and through the Help Line.
The S.V.S.G. President, Siliniu Lina Chang, also acknowledged the support of the Canadian government through the Canada Fund.
“Thanks to the partnership with the Canadian government through the Canada Fund for Local Initiative, the S.V.S.G. has been able to scale up its gender-based violence responsive services during this time, especially for the abused children,” she added.