This week, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), along with their partners Avenir Health, Johns Hopkins University, and Victoria University, published a report predicting a 20 percent rise in the rate of domestic and gender-based violence around the world due to the COVID-19 lockdowns.
According to the report, “For every 3 months the lockdown continues, an additional 15 million additional cases of gender-based violence are expected.” Already, countries around the world are reporting an increase in calls to domestic violence hotlines. In some cases, women are texting and emailing domestic violence prevention groups because they are trapped with an abusive partner at home and are unable to make a phone call.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is also expected to increase levels of violence. In the immediate term, the largest contributor is likely to come from the effects of stay-at-home orders and movement restrictions, which could increase women’s exposure to violent partners,” the report continues. “Mounting household tensions and economic stresses could also play a role.”
The report predicts a one-third reduction in response to domestic violence cases due to a decline in resources available prior to the pandemic. The figures in the report “account for the high levels of underreporting seen with gender-based violence.”
“It’s a calamity. Totally calamitous,” said Natalia Kanem, executive director of the UNFPA. “It is so clear that Covid-19 is compounding the no longer subterranean disparities that affect millions of women and girls.”
Numerous countries, including Germany, Italy, Greece, and India have responded by enacting new programs and policies intended to support women and girls who may be experiencing domestic violence during the coronavirus pandemic.
Sources: The Guardian 4/28/20; The Guardian 3/28/20; UNFPA 4/27/20