Abuse against women has and still is a significant threat to women’s health and worldwide public health as well, and intimate partner violence remains to be the most common type of violence. Worldwide, there is one in three women who have experienced sexual or physical abuse by their partner or by any assailant in their lifetime. It has been proven that abuse against women was inclined to increase during epidemics or some form of emergency, and disabled and older women have a higher likelihood of added risks. These are women who are displaced or those who are staying in vulnerable parts of their country.
It is sad to know through reports that in the United States, China, the United Kingdom, and other countries, cases of domestic violence since the coronavirus outbreak started have significantly increased.
How is the outbreak associated with an increased risk for domestic violence?
- The reduced availability for support and other services can all increase the risk of domestic violence in women.
- The possibility of women who are with abusive partners to be further abused is high, as they have more time spent together at home, and they are often in close contact, dealing with the stress and the challenges that the outbreak has brought about.
- As social distancing guidelines are implemented, and people are forced to stay at home, the risk of domestic abuse is most likely to increase.
- Women don’t get to keep in touch with their family and friends as often as they want because of the current pandemic. They are less likely to find the people who have been their support system.
- The closure of schools and interruption of their jobs and incomes further increases the stress placed in the home, potentially exacerbating arguments and violence.
- Abusers may manipulate their victims by spreading false information about the disease to instill fear in their partners. They may also restrict them from using items that their partners need, like alcohol or soap.
- Crisis centers, legal counsel offices, and other protection services may not be easily accessible.
What is the role of health systems?
Health systems play a crucial role in making sure that services for women who have been abused are available during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although this global crisis has burdened health workers in caring for those who are unwell, some measures can be done to help minimize the adverse effects of abuse on women and children. All teams that are tasked to respond to the pandemic must raise awareness of the possible effects that quarantine, social distancing, and other guidelines may have on violence against women and children.
How can abuse of women be addressed during the COVID-19?
- Policymakers and other areas of government should emphasize on including essential services to address the issue of violence against women in their response plans for the pandemic.
- Domestic violence services must be funded, and ways to make them more accessible in terms of social distancing measures must be made.
- Health centers should learn more and then disseminate information about hotlines, shelters for the abused, online counseling, and other services that cater to women survivors.
- Health workers must be aware of the risks and consequences of abuse against women. They must help abused women who confide in them by providing them with first-line support and treatment. This includes looking out for their needs, listening to them and not judging them, ensuring safety, and keeping them in touch with other survivors.
- It is important to initiate telemedicine in addressing abuse against women.
- Community members must play their part in helping reduce the risk of violence against women in their neighborhoods, especially during this pandemic.
- It is vital to make sure that women can safely communicate with others when they are being abused at home and that they are given ways to find support from family and friends.