ADB COVID-19 Response in Mongolia Combats Domestic Violence

Video | 25 November 2020

In Mongolia, the pandemic has had a strong impact on gender-based violence, as the number of cases has increased significantly. Police and NGO-run helplines report an increase in calls of 19% and 30%, respectively. Women constituted 93% of the victims and about 90% of the crimes were committed in a household setting.

The sole use of phone-based domestic violence hotlines, which at present are constrained to handle multiple calls, limits the possibility of victims to reach services during the quarantine period as staying in-doors in close proximity of perpetrators can hinder their calls for assistance.  Adolescents, who are now constantly online, are exposed to sexual predators and cyberbullies.

ADB’s emergency Covid-19 support is making the national domestic violence response mechanism resilient to pandemics and other crises.

Digital platforms and chatbots are being built and integrated in the websites of the government and NGOs so services are available 24/7, especially at the dead of night when women need help most.

A communication campaign will drive traffic to the digital platforms and lead people at risk of violence to know where and how to access options depending on their digital capacities.

ADB’s emergency covid-19 support makes reporting and rescue safer for women especially in doubly difficult times. Investing in domestic violence response as part of pandemic management is an investment in health and economic recovery.  

Transcript

[OPERATOR]: Hotline 107.  We’re on our way.

Domestic violence cases in Mongolia are increasing. The government has established a national response mechanism where distressed women and children can report, get support, and be rescued from abusive situations.

It starts with a call to the hotline 107.  Or the police hotline 102.

Calls are referred to the local police unit, which assesses the safety risks, and visits the household to check on the family. Depending on their needs, women in distress are given counseling, or moved to shelters. If they want to know their legal options, the women can also call the National Legal Institute

Women can also call an NGO helpline for psychological counseling,
legal help and shelter. Both services, however, are only available from 8 to 5.

And then COVID-19 happened.

[OPERATOR]: Hotline 107
[Woman’s VOICE]:  Can I order food?
[OPERATOR]: Hello Ma’am? This is domestic violence hotline 107.  
[Woman’s VOICE]: Do you have vegetables?
[OPERATOR]: Ma’am…you cannot talk? Is someone there with you preventing you to talk?
[Woman’s VOICE]: Yes.

During the lockdown, women have been restricted from asking for help,
and often trapped at home with their abusers. Adolescents who are now constantly online are exposed to sexual predators and cyberbullies.

Police and medical frontliners are overwhelmed with increasing reports of abuse on top of managing the pandemic.

ADB’s emergency assistance to Mongolia covers not just COVID-19 management,
but also the additional crisis of domestic violence.  

[VERONICA JOFFRE, GENDER SPECIALIST, EAST ASIA REGIONAL DEPARTMENT]: “ADB’s emergency COVID-19 support  is making the national domestic violence response mechanism resilient to pandemics and other crises.”

With most communication channels going online, ADB is expanding the digital options for women and children.

The websites of the National Legal Institute and an NGO, the National Center Against Violence are being revamped so they can be easily accessed.

Chatbots are built in so services are available 24/7, especially at the dead of night when women need help most.  ADB is also assisting the Mongolian government and NGOs to reach adolescents so they will be able to recognize predatory behavior, protect themselves and know when and where to ask for help.

Stress management training is given to staffs on hotlines 107 and 102 and other medical and police frontliners so caregivers are also cared for.

To keep them safe from COVID-19 while providing services, protective gear is given to shelters and equipment such as ultrasound machines are provided to police so the women do not need to go to hospitals.   

[JAMES Lynch, Director General, ADB East Asia Regional Department]:
“Ultimately, when we invest in addressing and preventing domestic violence, we also invest in pandemic management. We invest in health and economic recovery.”

ADB’s emergency covid-19 support is making reporting and rescue safer for women especially in doubly difficult times.