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The syndemic of COVID-19 and gender-based violence in humanitarian settings: leveraging lessons from Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo

As the gendered dimensions of COVID-19 are increasingly recognised, efforts to situate gender-based violence (GBV) within the pandemic remain inadequate. It is critical to first acknowledge that the drivers and impacts of COVID-19 and GBV do not occur in isolation; rather, they present as a syndemic—each is made more destructive by the presence of the other.1 Thus, it is not the infection of COVID-19 that increases the risk of GBV but rather the gender-insensitive systems and policies that magnify the risk.2

Based on the knowledge that the public health crises of violence and infectious disease are intersecting, we use a syndemic perspective to examine their shared influence in humanitarian settings. This brief leverages learnings from the 2018–2020 Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to inform and strengthen ongoing responses related to GBV and COVID-19 within humanitarian settings…

Stark, L., Meinhart, M., Vahedi, L., Carter, S. E., Roesch, E., Moncrieff, I. S., … & Poulton, C. (2020). The syndemic of COVID-19 and gender-based violence in humanitarian settings: leveraging lessons from Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo. BMJ Global Health.

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