Domestic violence is violence or abuse in a domestic setting, be it in a marriage or cohabitation. It is usually referred to as violence committed by one person against the other person who is an intimate partner or in a relationship with them. One in three women worldwide experience physical or sexual violence by their partners.
There has been a pervasive rise in violence against women during the pandemic, shortly after the lockdown was imposed due to the coronavirus outbreak. The rise of domestic violence led to the disempowerment of women on multiple levels, be it physical, psychological, emotional or sexual.
The isolation exposed the four walls of the home as a contested space with unequal power. One of the main cause that made women vulnerable during these crucial times is restriction to personal movement. This caused an imbalance of power and control. It is often ignored as it occurs in the confinement of their homes.
However, the domestic does not really matters, what is important to note is that violence is violence in any form. The pandemic of the virus turned into a “pandemic of abuse”, which needed to be deleted at any cost. It is no ‘private matter’, but a human rights violation.
Kamala Bhasin writes that the pandemic has led to the debunking of homes as a safe space for women, exposing the weaknesses of the social and political systems — or a ‘pandemic within a pandemic,’ as quoted by the UN. With women bearing the bigger burden of unpaid care work, they were deprived of basic necessities such as food and water. Economic instability, lack of social support, unemployment and unsafe housing fuelled violent and abusive behaviours.
High number of cases have been reported of rapes, sexual assault and physical mistreatment against women. “Work from home” gave birth to intimate terrorism. No escape, lack of shelters and government inaction made it difficult for women to leave their abusive relationships. They should be able to delete the emotional blackmail from their partners.
With the government working on the vaccine for Covid-19, there is also an urgent for a vaccine for the abuse. There is a lot more needed to be done by concerned authorities. More safe shelters and helplines must be installed, and improvement to existing laws such as VAWA and VOCA Acts should be prioritised.
Survivors tend to have limited awareness and access to services that should made easily accessible to them. There is an urgent need to improve the primary care to domestic violence survivors. Sufficient funding for women’s organisations is an immediate concern to support survivors. There is life after abuse. Believe the victim, listen to them.