Chad: Resourcing local organizations to mitigate risks of violence against women and girls during COVID-19

Date: Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Chad: Resourcing local organizations to mitigate risks of violence against women and girls during COVID-19
In front of PILC's Listening Center in Kelo (June 2020). Credit: Olivier Djentordia / PILC.

One of 35 organizations awarded grants by the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (UN Trust Fund) under the Spotlight Initiative in 2019, the Public Interest Law Center (PILC) is leading the project “Violence against Women and Girls in Chad: Prevention and Care.”[1] The project aims to eradicate harmful social norms, customs and practices, and improve access to legal and psychosocial services for women survivors of violence, including women in detention, domestic workers and survivors of sexual exploitation.

As COVID-19 has spread, women and girls in Chad have felt the impact. Delphine Djiraibe, PILC’s Senior Advocate, said:

“This pandemic casts a shadow on the issue of violence against women and girls in our communities […] Women and girls suffer [from] impunity and utter indifference.”

She explained that as support systems and resources have been diverted to the health crisis, insufficient attention is being paid to the rampant violence:

“We cannot know precise statistics of these crimes as they are not reported. Women worry that the perpetrators would be released anyways due to current measures to decongest jails.”

According to Delphine, factors increasing the risks of violence against women and girls include:

  • overcrowded living conditions;
  • suspension of income-generating activities;
  • scarcity of resources and support services; and
  • lockdown restrictions that prevent survivors and those at risk of violence seeking help.

The organization is currently using radio broadcasts to raise awareness of violence against women by highlighting laws that punish perpetrators and by encouraging people to report violence. Simultaneously, through its 24/7 helpline, PILC-trained paralegals are providing listening services to offer legal support and advice on protection measures for survivors and those at risk of violence.

“PILC’s use of new and older technologies, such as radio broadcasts, shows flexibility and nimbleness of grantees”, said Adina Wolf, Resource Mobilization and Reporting Specialist. “The UN Trust Fund is proud to fund organizations who know the situation on the ground to be able to adapt effectively.”

The pandemic has significantly affected PILC’s work, such as preventing visits to communities and forcing it to reallocate its resources. The organization is one of 44 existing UN Trust Fund grantees in Sub-Saharan Africa eligible for additional institutional strengthening support under the Spotlight Initiative-funded projects. These supplementary resources are vital to ensure that local women’s rights organizations can continue their lifesaving work in these challenging times. With the new funding, PILC is planning to:

  • improve their organization’s capacity and facilities to ensure staff’s well-being and can work remotely;
  • invest in help centres so that women survivors and at risk of violence can seek temporary shelter;
  • provide sanitary kits and ration bags; and
  • offer medical and psychological assistance.

[1] In French: “Violences faites aux femmes et filles au Tchad: Prevention et Prise en charge”.