UN Women and Twitter team up to provide life-saving information to survivors of domestic violence in Asia and the Pacific


One of the most striking impacts of COVID-19 has been the increased reporting of violence against women in many countries. Even in “normal” times, women in the Asia and the Pacific region experience high levels of violence, with as many as 2 out of 3 women reporting experiences of violence in some countries — which is double the global average. In some countries, cases of domestic violence have risen by 30%.

With billions of people in this region sheltering at home, many women are trapped in isolation with abusive partners and unable to access life-saving resources and support systems. To counter this trend, the UN Women Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific joined hands with Twitter and critical partners to provide important information about helpline services for domestic violence survivors.

It works as follows: When a Twitter user searches for terms associated with violence against women ("abuse,” “sexual assault,” “domestic violence,” etc.), the top search result will be a notification in their language: “If you are experiencing violence, help is available,” followed by a relevant hotline number and the Twitter handle of that service. 

Twitter, with support from UN Women, is launching the prompts in Thailand, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea and Viet Nam as part of Twitter’s #ThereIsHelp notification initiative.

For UN Women, the decision to cooperate with Twitter was motivated by UN Women’s focus on ensuring essential information and helpline contacts are accurate and accessible to everyone, including people who feel marginalized or are hard to reach — especially at a time when service providers are less available.

“Violence against women and girls across Asia-Pacific is pervasive but at the same time widely underreported,” says Melissa Alvarado, UN Women Asia Pacific Regional Manager on Ending Violence against Women. “Fewer than four in 10 women experiencing such violence actually report these crimes or seek help of any sort. As lockdowns and stay-at-home orders are being prolonged by countries around the world to contain the spread of COVID-19, women with violent partners increasingly find themselves isolated from the people and resources that can help them. Connecting women who are feeling fearful or in danger is critical for their safety.”

As part of the #ThereIsHelp campaign, Twitter users are also encouraged to send messages of support and let others know that services are open and available to help women experiencing violence.

For more information about this initiative, see Twitter’s blog post: https://blog.twitter.com/en_sea/topics/company/2020/apac-gender-based-violence-prompt.html