Isabela Ponce is a journalist and editor in Ecuador. She co-founded GK, an independent media outlet, where she writes about women’s rights, the environment, and indigenous rights. GK is a grantee of the Internews Information Saves Lives fund.
Since the pandemic started, Ponce has been focused on the issue of women who are experiencing increased levels of abuse because they are now “locked up” at home with their abusers.
“…these are the silent victims. No one’s caring about them.…all [the government’s] attention is focused, obviously, on COVID and not on violence. So, we are telling the stories that are untold. And, during non-COVID times, it’s still an underreported subject. So, [now] it’s getting worse and worse.”
Watch a video where Ponce shares her concerns:
With the grant Ponce received from Internews’ Information Saves Lives fund, she plans to develop a special report called The Other Covid-19 Victims in which she will map gender based violence in Ecuador during this crisis. She also connects women that report violence with people that may be able to help on WhatsApp groups.
“Actually, these are protection networks that, within the groups, there are lawyers, psychologists and different people that help the women in different ways…we include phone lines or contacts. So, we are not only saying this is happening, but this is happening – what can you do?”
As well as their work with women and violence, the day the first covid-19 case in Ecuador was confirmed, GK created a special page in which they publish contextualized news, updated data, and human rights focused reports. They are also part of two transnational projects relating to Covid-19 coverage: one with Chequeado to counter disinformation and another with CLIP to do investigative reporting, the latter of which Ponce is leading.
GK also produces social media content with key information for readers (how to protect yourself from the virus, who to contact if you are suffering violence while in quarantine), and they have launched a newsletter with advice for getting through this quarantine.
The pandemic crisis is also an information crisis, and journalists are the first responders. In an emergency, information saves lives. Hear from more journalists and information providers, as they grapple to stay operational and report on the crisis.
(Banner image: A woman sits on a bench overlooking a city in Ecuador. Credit DMCA/Pxfuel/CC)