Jakarta (ANTARA) - The increase in Internet use amid the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the risk of online gender-based violence (GBV), Women's Empowerment and Child Protection Minister Bintang Puspayoga has said.

"The increasingly massive use of the Internet has increased the risk of online GBV. The National Commission on Violence against Women (Komnas Perempuan) noted that online gender-based violence in 2020 rose nearly 400 percent compared to the previous year," she said at an event, accessed online from here on Friday.

According to the minister, SafeNet has also found a similar trend and reported that revenge porn has increased to 375 percent compared to 2019, that is before the pandemic hit.

"As a vulnerable group, women bear the impact of COVID-19 more than men in terms of income, mental health, and inadequate social protection. Not only that, but women are also facing various new social issues as a result of the new normal," she said.

The minister drew a parallel between the issue of violence against women and the iceberg phenomenon, saying the actual number of unreported cases of violence against women is higher than the number of reported cases.

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Besides online gender-based violence, most cases reported by women during COVID-19 involved domestic violence, she noted.

Data from the Information System for the Protection of Women and Children shows that 74 percent of the 8,803 cases of violence against women and children recorded from 1 January to 2 December 2021 involved domestic violence, she said.

The same data source put the number of cases of violence against children at 12,559, with 60 percent of the cases involving sexual violence, she added.

"The public activity restrictions (PPKM) that the government implemented to reduce COVID-19 transmission has been one of the factors that have hindered women and children from accessing assistance services," Puspayoga said.

She asserted that her ministry will continue to strengthen the assistance service unit for victims of violence in regions, call center services, the database, encourage capacity building of human resources (HR), and provide economic empowerment programs for women survivors of violence.

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Translator: Sanya Dinda, Raka Adji
Editor: Suharto
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