Men Championing Women’s Rights During the Pandemic–IMC

Jamil-ur-Rehman, 32, being a differently abled child, was raised in a toxic, discriminatory and often-times violent environment, in a society which is strongly biased towards individuals with disabilities. He always wanted to transform his circumstances and the perspectives around his disability but did not know how. “I still remember the day when a friend of mine introduced me to the International Medical Corps and its work around GSG in Jan, 2019. For the first time, I felt I can do something…something to aspire, change and make a difference,” Jamil said.

Jamil is married with 2 children and lives in refugee village Chakdara, District Lower-Dir, KP. He is a member of community-based group of volunteers known as Gender Support Group (GSG) for the prevention of Gender Based Violence (GBV). Gender Support Group is a part of the three-year project Expanding MHPSS and Strengthening GBV Prevention and Response for Afghan Refugees in KP Province, funded by Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM). It aims to increase the utilization of GBV prevention and response services integrated with mental health and psychosocial support services for Afghan refugees in selected Refugee Villages, as well as community members for the improved protection status of women and girls.

Impact of COVID-19

COVID-19 has greatly influenced community well-being and increased the risks of gender-based violence (GBV) in communities which is expected to have long term negative consequences for people, their families and communities.

Those who are directly affected may be reluctant to report the abuse because of fear, influence and power differences between victims and perpetrators of abuse during these challenging times.

Now I’m an activist, I talk to men in my community about their behavior and encourage them to live like real men in their homes – without violence”.


Pre-existing economic and social stress in the refugee communities and further fear and anxiety caused by the pandemic, coupled with limited movement and social isolation measures, have led to an increase in GBV incidents. Growing up in an environment where women always felt discriminated and alienated from household decision making was something Jamil could relate to, as a physically-challenged adult.

That is the reason he feels so strong for the cause and decided to join the voice for women’s rights. Through GSG he has been sensitized on gender-based violence, its causes and consequences, human

Photo by: IMC Pakistan/Mujeeb-ur-Rehman
Jamil while talking about COVID-19 and its impact on GBV with the community members at District Lower Dir-Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Jamil shared, “When government announced complete lockdown, I felt there is a need to raise awareness about the issue of gender-based violence during pandemic as well as about the practices that can replace the conventional in-person support”.

During the pandemic, he continued to raise awareness online on GBV and provide telephonic services for those seeking psychological first aid, counseling, or any other kind of support with the help of International Medical Corps’ Project, funded by PRM.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, he is actively engaged in different activities and provides help to the communities who feel disconnected from their support networks to reduce the prevalence of gender-based violence in communities.

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