By: Ann Ciancia
Journal of Global Rights and Organizations, Associate Articles Editor
GENEVA, Switzerland – April is Sexual Assault Awareness month, but during this month, there has been an increase in the number of domestic violence incidents across the world due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Entire nations have requested lockdowns to slow the spread of the virus and to flatten the curve. Many victims are forced to quarantine with their abuser and have no shelter to seek. Victims cannot escape the violence and are not given the option to maintain six feet apart from their abuser.
The Coronavirus has led to a downfall in social and economic environments around the globe. According to the U.N., this collapse has led to an increase in violence against women around the world. U.N. Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, wants all of the international community to understand the threat of violence that is imminent for victims and to put pressure on countries in order to protect their citizens. Guterres states that, “[f]or many women and girls, the threat looms largest where they should be safest – in their own homes. And so I make a new appeal today for peace at home – and in homes – around the world.”
A multitude of countries have reported an increase in domestic violence. France reported a one third increase in the rates of domestic violence in one week. Within the first week of South Africa’s lockdown, there were over 90,000 reported instances of violence against women. In Turkey, there was a surge of women being killed in their homes after a stay-at-home order was in place. According to the police, during the rise of Coronavirus in China domestic violence cases tripled. The number of victims of abuse continue to rise during quarantine.
“For people who are experiencing domestic violence, mandatory lockdowns to curb the spread of COVID-19 have trapped them in their homes with their abusers, isolated from the people and the resources that could help them.”
Within the United States, the National Domestic Violence Hotline has seen an increase in victims calling in for help and protection. Some abusers have threatened their partners to withhold them from financial and medical assistance. Abusers have a sense of power and control over their victims. During times of crisis, there is a lack of control overall. When this occurs, the abuser needs to rein in their control over the victim and take out their frustrations. Victims are likely to face extreme violence by their partner during this pandemic.
Although research has shown quarantining can help slow the spread of Coronavirus, many women and girls are faced with an abusive burden at home. In a locked down home, an abusive husband can be working from home, or he can be laid off and take his frustration out on his wife. It is important to self-quarantine and slow the spread of the virus, but some women may struggle to stay alive in their own home.
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