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What Factors Exacerbate and Mitigate the Risk of Gender-Based Violence During COVID-19? Insights From a Phone Survey in Indonesia

World Bank Group East Asia and Pacific Gender Innovation Lab




Influencing Gender Norms Workplace Gender Equality

Gender-based violence

What Factors Exacerbate and Mitigate the Risk of Gender-Based Violence During COVID-19? Insights From a Phone Survey in Indonesia

What Factors Exacerbate and Mitigate the Risk of Gender-Based Violence During COVID-19? Insights From a Phone Survey in Indonesia

This report aims to provide clarity on factors that pose the greatest risk of gender-based violence (GBV) and determine policy interventions that may effectively protect women. The insights are based on collated data on exposure to GBV—through in-person interviews in 2018 and phone survey interviews in 2020 (in-person data collection was not possible due to health concerns associated with the pandemic).

The East Asia and Pacific Gender Innovation Lab (EAPGIL) conducted their research in Indonesia. Notably, one in three Indonesian women have experienced GBV in their lifetime. Anecdotal evidence from one hotline in Jakarta also suggested an increase in GBV, with the hotline receiving 110 calls reporting domestic violence between March and June 2020—amounting to 50% of calls received in the entirety of 2019.

A total of 866 women across 6 provinces in Indonesia were interviewed via phone, the same individuals who were interviewed in 2018. Survey results are not nationally representative, the population sample being highly concentrated in rural areas with a high international migrant population. Data from the interviews included information on employment, non-agricultural enterprises, remittances, food security, social assistance, knowledge of COVID-19, domestic work, and health symptoms.

Using the data available, EAPGIL created an index of exposure to GBV and an index of increased intensity of GBV due to COVID-19. The indexes were based on diverse variables found in the survey, and used a machine learning algorithm as well as stepwise regression analysis to identify significant patterns and predictors of exposure to GBV.

Survey Results

  • Based on the phone survey, 17% of women in the sample population experienced injury, 4% felt unsafe at home, 16% felt unsafe in the community, and 8% experienced conflicts at least once a week during six months prior to the interview (between March and August 2020.
  • Responses to the vignettes suggest higher exposure to violence in their community: 43%, 50% and 27% of the respondents agree that intimate partner violence (IPV), violence against children and harassment are common or very common in their communities.
  • The perception is that violence increased due to COVID-19: 43% and 46% of respondents feel less safe at home and outside of home, respectively; 18% reported more frequent arguments due to COVID-19; 83%, 68% and 65% shared perception that COVID-19 increased likelihood of IPV, violence against children and harassment in their communities.

Key Findings

  • Economic stress increases the likelihood of violence, with household food insecurity among the strongest predictors of exposure to gender-based violence.
  • Women’s access to jobs protects them from increase in exposure to gender-based violence due to COVID-19.
  • Women in highly populated urban areas may be lower at risk, as these locales offer better access to economic resources, institutional support, and more gender equitable social norms which have been shown to lower the risk to GBV.
  • Women with lower and higher education and age are at lower risk than their counterparts in the middle of education and age distributions.
  • It is critical to expand and continue the provision of social protection measures (i.e., food relief, financial support, utilities subsidy) during the pandemic. These programs support all members of the household and may also protect women from GBV.
  • Policies fostering women’s economic empowerment should be implemented both during the pandemic and as recovery measures. Aside from boosting economic growth, protecting gains in women’s economic empowerment also protects them from GBV.

EAPGIL is part of the Federation of Gender Innovation Labs at the World Bank Group. Its three focus areas are centred on improving women’s economic opportunities, namely: remove barriers to productivity of women farmers and entrepreneurs, reduce trade-offs between women’s household and market roles, and enhance women’s skills.

This report may be downloaded on the World Bank website.

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