The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly disrupted everyone’s lives. This is a fact that all people are aware of in 2021. What many may not be aware of, are the ramifications of lockdowns that exist specifically for the lives of many women. Women have been disproportionately affected by the global response to this pandemic. Among issues such as economic shock and health care worker inequality, there has been an evident increase in women suffering as victims of domestic violence. The increase in domestic violence towards women arguably deserves emergency attention from governments globally.
In April 2020, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres appealed to end all forms of violence everywhere and implored governments to address the “horrifying global surge in domestic violence”. Unfortunately, the expectancy of this outbreak in domestic violence should have come as no surprise to the world, as the lockdowns have clearly amplified the problem of domestic violence. Lockdowns have taken away a woman’s opportunity to leave the house and therefore leave her assailant.
The safety of all women, and especially victims of domestic violence must become a priority for all governments as the pressures of victims having to stay in a house with their abuser due to mandatory lockdowns, are not sustainable nor are they safe. The additional closure of non-essential businesses means that work no longer provides an escape for these victims. Places such as France, Cyprus and Singapore have proved to be at the most at risk for increased domestic violence due to lockdowns, which demonstrates that this problem must be treated as an emergency.
Globally, domestic violence reports and emergency calls have risen by 25% since government implementations of social distancing were put into place. Italy was among the first to put these in place as a response to the pandemic. The difficulty of the COVID-19 virus meant that shelters in which women would escape to pre-pandemic were now too great of a risk for viral spread and infection.
Italy demonstrated a great initiative to communicate to local authorities that specific hotel rooms were to be used as temporary shelters for women who were at risk of domestic violence. This initiative upheld the safety precautions within COVID-19 rules and domestic violence safety. Many other countries around the world also adopted this hotel room initiative to create safe spaces for domestic violence victims. However, this is only a temporary solution.
Governments around the world should invest in education against domestic violence within schools systems in order to break the chain of domestic violence, especially now, when the statistics for abuse are so evidently high. If education systems do not implement change within their curriculum, the world will never see the statistics for domestic violence change. Governments should see spikes in statistics as a reason to implement emergency change within our educational systems. The hotel room initiative is unsustainable, whereas education has the power to create a lasting impact.