The UN has called this the “Shadow Pandemic”. Violence against women, in every form, has intensified since the beginning of the pandemic. Every single one of the exacerbating factors listed in their study is the result of Lockdown. Isolation with abusers, restrictions upon movement, and deserted public spaces have all placed women in grave danger. In the first month of the pandemic, the number of calls to National Abuse Hotline in the UK shot up by 65 per cent, and calls to the Refuge helpline for victims by 120 per cent. Tens of thousands of women have been added to an already long list of victims of domestic abuse. Women are trapped in their homes, exposed in the streets, and nothing will measurably improve until we end their cruel confinement.
Even in comfortable homes, Lockdown has placed crippling burdens upon women. Women have taken on most of the responsibility for childcare and chores, posing a “real risk of reverting to 1950s gender stereotypes”, according to the UN Women deputy executive director Anita Bhatia. Unpaid and often unappreciated hours of domestic work have increased by the millions. What’s worse is that many women will never be returning to work: in September alone in the US, around 865,000 women dropped out of the work force compared to 200,000 men, a rise that Bhatia says is almost certainly due to increased pressures at home. The extremely stressful task of running a home during Lockdown, unfairly assigned to women on the basis of outdated gender norms, has contributed to a crisis in women’s mental health around the world.
According to an article in The Lancet, “mandatory lockdown orders may have taken minor offenders and placed them into situations where there is rampant opportunity for intimate partner violence, serious batteries, and homicides.”Lockdown has fostered a ‘shadow pandemic’ of violence against women | Madeleine Armstrong | The Critic Magazine