The COVID-19 virus was first detected in China’s Wuhan has affected billions of people globally. Millions have lost their lives to the pandemic, and so many more are suffering from it every day. Coronavirus is a physical ailment that starts as a cold but turns into a dangerous disease that soon attacks your lungs.
The disease has not only been affecting people’s physical health; it has also taken a toll on the mental health of the affected people. Many people locked up inside their houses to protect themselves from the virus have found comfort within their homes. However, staying at home has a whole different meaning for others.
Domestic Violence has Doubled During the Pandemic
There has been an increase in the number of reported domestic violence cases post-pandemic. According to a study, gender-based violence cases have almost doubled since the onset of the pandemic. The alarming number of cases reported this year has been a matter of great concern for many people.
The issue was brought into focus in April by the United Nations when Secretary-General UN, António Guterres, addressed the world and asked governments around the world to put the safety of women first. He highlighted the issue by saying that lockdowns are essential to combat the virus, but at the same time, they are trapping women along with their abusive partners.
The global economic and social crisis has led to a surge in domestic violence cases. The number of women reporting domestic violence cases in some countries has almost doubled. Since the police and health care workers are occupied, it has given predators a chance to target victims easily.
The lack of medical care, child safety, job instability are all factors that have worsened this situation and made women even more vulnerable than before. Domestic violence cases, especially intimate violence, are heavily dependent on social factors, as discussed above.
The Reasons for the Increase in Domestic Violence
1. Economic Instability
Economic instability is a major reason behind the growing number of domestic violence cases. The pandemic has caused uncertainty and instability for people all over the world. There have been mass layoffs in companies, and employers are quick to let go of women, people of color, and immigrants.
With restaurants and recreational spots closing down, people without college degrees are losing their jobs.
2. Shelters are Closed
To make matters worse, shelters have become restricted or entirely shut down to prevent the increase of viruses, which has posed a huge challenge for people who require alternate housing space.
Even churches, mosques, and other places of worship that allowed shelter to victims of abuse are now closed for the public. Some are losed entirely while others are only opening their doors during Prayer Times.
3. Mounting Stress
Additionally, with the closure of schools, daycares, and other child care facilities, there has been additional stress at homes. Virtual learning methods might be a good alternate for children to continue their studies during the pandemic, but they require the involvements of parents or guardians which is an additional job for the parent.
Moreover, a lot of families don’t have stable internet connections, which makes it even more difficult to accommodate online teaching methods. The additional stress of juggling home, work, and children causes parents to become edgy and results in child abuse. Moreover, with parents occupied in their matters, they fail to see any signs of abuse their child might be going through.
4. Reporting Structure
Domestic violence between partners is barely reported because most women are discouraged by the extensive procedure of filing a domestic violence case. The lack of consistent methods for reporting cases has put a barrier to reporting cases among women.
Moreover, people of color might be even more reluctant to file such cases due to their history with the police. Hence, very few Intimate Violence Cases (IPV) are reported. Those who end up in medical care are reported to have undergone domestic abuse at a later stage.
5. Hospitals are Filled with COVID-19 Patinets
Medical offices are a safe place to open up about domestic abuse. Moreover, doctors and medical practitioners can tell whether the patient has undergone domestic violence either through physical examination or by speaking to them.
Confirmation of domestic violence and abuse permits social workers and doctors to intervene and offer their help to the victim and the dependents. Unfortunately, these services are somewhat missing in the post-pandemic setting as most healthcare staff is focusing on the people affected by the coronavirus.
Several medical care centers have shifted the operations to telemedicine and only take a handful of patients that, too, on an appointment basis. This has discouraged people from visiting clinics, and there are hundreds of cases that go unreported because of this reason.
Takeaway – Better Practices Needed to Reduce Domestic Violence
With the second wave of the pandemic lurking around, countries are now better positioned to promote access to services that could help minimize domestic violence. A stable internet connection at home can provide victims with easy access to report cases. Moreover, screening for IPV can be made part of the routine checkup even during a telemedicine appointment.
Standard questions regarding domestic violence should be a part of the sessions whether the patient shows signs of abuse. Additionally, health care workers should educate themselves on domestic violence issues and what can be done during a pandemic to minimize the impact. Once the patient is known to show signs of abuse, the patient can be taken into confidence and notify the authorities to receive help promptly.
It is the responsibility of governing bodies to develop and strengthen existing laws in case of a crisis. Social factors are a huge contributor to the surge in IPV cases, domestic violence, and child abuse.
The pandemic has only highlighted how important it is to focus on this sector and provide those in need with the help and support they need at the time of a global crisis as big as the COVID-19 pandemic. The inability of governing bodies to take any action could have disastrous effects on the people.
Nouman provides ghostwriting and copywriting services. His educational background in the technical field and business studies helps him in tackling topics ranging from career and business productivity to web development and digital marketing. He occasionally writes articles for Prayer Times.