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JIG COVID-19 Series: How quarantine lockdowns endanger women’s health and security

[JIG Covid-19 Series] The COVID-19 pandemic continues to confine more families in lockdowns, resulting in escalating unintended consequences of gender-based violence. This includes higher rates of domestic violence with less police intervention as well as less accessibility to essential services, particularly for refugee women.

Domestic violence rises, police intervention falls

According to an Outlook article, researchers from a study published in the journal Bioethics found that while domestic violence continues to increase, police intervention decreases. Outlook wrote that a “police station in China’s Hubei Province recorded a tripling of domestic violence reports in February 2020 during the COVID-19 quarantine.” Despite the escalating cases, the study found that police “have been reluctant to intervene and detain perpetrators due to COVID-19 outbreaks in prisons.”

COVID-19 brings more intimate partner violence

Aditi Murti of The Swaddle quotes the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), warning that intimate partner violence is increasing, specifically for refugee women and girls. Assistant High Commissioner for Protection at UN Refugee Agency, Gillian Triggs spoke about the prevailing gender-based violence incidences in a statement. “As a result of the economic devastation that COVID-19 has inflicted, [refugee women] may be forced into survival sex or child marriages by their families. Within the household, many women are also taking on increased burdens as caregivers.”

Refugee women suffer the most from the pandemic’s wrath

Murti writes that the vulnerable group of women refugees lack adequate access to health and security services, such as safe shelters and healthcare facilities. Triggs urges governments to ensure essential services are highly accessible.

Neetu John from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in the US gave recommendations to combat the repercussions of a global healthcare crisis to Outlook. “Recognising, valuing, supporting women”s roles and giving them a voice in global health governance can go a long way in avoiding unintended consequences, building resilient healthcare systems, and reducing intersectional inequalities and vulnerabilities across gender, race, class and geography.”

Women’s voices must be incorporated into the pandemic’s response, especially considering they make up the majority of frontline jobs and are at higher risk to exposure.


*This story is part of the Covid-19 gender-based violence journalism series, produced by the Journalism Initiative on Gender-Based Violence (JiG), an initiative of the Center for Women’s Global Leadership. The Series is produced by Angela Riccitello (Writer) and Lagipoiva Cherelle Jackson (Editor). Riccitello is the journalism intern at JiG and a journalism graduate at Rutgers University. Lagipoiva is the Chief Editor of JiG and the CWGL Visiting Global Associate.