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A Hotline Providing Hope for Women Facing Abuse in El Salvador

This article is part of a series featuring inspiring stories of local action #fromthefrontlines of COVID-19 in the Global South. For more, visit our COVID-19 page and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

El Salvador’s strict lockdown restrictions have left many women trapped in homes with abusive partners and family members.

From March to May, reports of gender-based violence jumped 70 percent as compared to the same period in 2019, according to a report from the International Rescue Committee. And while cases have skyrocketed, services for women have halted.

In response to this growing problem, three feminist networks came together to create a hotline for women living in abusive situations. Two of the groups are supported by the Fund through cooperation with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA)—Colectiva Feminista and La Agrupación. The third partner is Red Salvadoreña de Defensoras de Derechos Humanos.

The hotline provides much of the same support as in-person services, namely emergency psychosocial support and legal counseling.

These organizations have been working at the forefront of women’s rights in El Salvador for a number of years, including advocating for policy changes around the criminalization of abortion and providing legal defenses for women convicted or accused of abortion-related crimes .

Violence against women is also a key focus of their work. In 2018, a woman or girl was killed every day on average in El Salvador. More than 70 percent of Salvadoran women have experienced violence, but abuse and assault remain under-reported to authorities. An enduring lack of government infrastructure and accountability has created a culture where it’s unlikely that such cases are fully investigated, or abusers are brought to justice.

Community-based services such as this hotline, along with ongoing advocacy efforts, are vital parts of the collective fight for women’s rights in El Salvador and the countries COVID-19 response. Thanks to Colectiva Feminista, La Agrupación, other Fund-backed groups, their sister organizations, and allies, Salvadoran women striving to live safe, healthy, and equal lives during and after the pandemic are continuing to receive support.

Learn how other Fund-backed organizations across the world are working to protect women and their rights in light of COVID-19.