New data from the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and partners show a dramatic increase in reports of gender-based violence across Latin America since the COVID-19 pandemic. In El Salvador, reports have increased 70% since the pandemic, and in Mexico femicides increased by 65% between March and April. Our IRC information hub for essential services saw a 30-fold increase in searches related to gender-based violence protection since the pandemic.

Recent IRC and partner data shows substantial increases in reports of gender-based violence across Latin America since the COVID-19 pandemic, which are all likely under-estimates:

The IRC operates a multi-platform information hub with two-way messaging, “CuentaNos,” where users in El Salvador and Honduras (and soon Guatemala) can seek information and service providers for essential services, such as health, education, and gender-based violence protection, as well as critical information on signs and symptoms of COVID-19. CuentaNos data as of May 31 reveals drastic increases in searches and requests for help due to gender-based violence since the onset of the pandemic:

Meghan Lopez, the International Rescue Committee’s Regional Director of Latin America, said, “In the wake of COVID-19, women and adolescent girls, many of whom were already experiencing forms of violence are now taking on double and triple responsibilities all in confined spaces 24 hours of the day, some completely stuck with their perpetrators and in increasingly vulnerable situations, without any respite. This, coupled with services closed due to quarantine and lockdown -- 95% of local and government response services are closed in El Salvador, for example -- puts women and girls at high risk of serious harm or death. Greater funding to support efforts -- such as the IRC’s Women’s Protection and Empowerment efforts from Mexico to Northern Central America to Venezuela -- will ensure women and girls who are experiencing GBV have accessible and safe response services they need during this crisis through psychosocial support and that they have information on the proper referral pathways for shelter and clinical care for gender-based violence.”

The IRC has ramped up support and unveiled innovative strategies to combat gender-based violence across Latin America since the pandemic: