Self-Isolation is more horrifying than the COVID 19 itself for some women

Domestic violence is a vital and heart wrenching trait of any society in the world. In the lockdowns where families are bound to stay at home for their safety and survival.

Developed countries and their experts have shown their concern and interest specifically for women who suffer domestic abuse in any form.

The fear and reality of living with a dangerous person who does everything to abuse a woman mentally, emotionally and physically is very suffocating. Earlier than the lockdown these men would go to work giving few hours of breathing to  women but now that also seems inevitable as the entire world is fighting against serious crisis of coronavirus and each person is to stay at home.

Experts, campaigners and survivors have claimed that there would be an increase in domestic violence in this time and have asked the concerned authorities and governments for help. According to a report of BBC there has been a 20% rise of domestic abuse in Northern Ireland, 32% in Paris and 40% in New South Wales and there will be no doubt that there will be a rise in Wales.

Addressing this matter governments around the world have generated an access to emergency for people who become victim of domestic abuse. UK government have made their telephone and national online services more accessible by providing the citizens a quick dial of 999 whereas for USA people are advised to contact National Coalition Against Domestic Violence or the National Domestic Violence Hotline or just 911.Gender concerned measures taken by countries essentially describe the significance and urgency of the constraint time in lockdowns for women at home.

While observing such steps focusing women mental health and wellbeing Pakistan’s government should also take necessary steps to help reduce the risk of domestic violence. Pakistan as a nation is a lot behind than developed countries but currently it is dealing with some of the best strategies to counter COVID 19 with all the resources and capacity it has as a developing country. One of the statement issued by Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Under-Secretary-General and UN Women Executive Director states “We need mitigation strategies that specifically target both the health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak on women and that support and build women’s resilience…”

In the U.K., where I live, 1.6 million women experienced domestic violence in the year ending March 2019. Women are also more likely to be the victims of sustained abuse—83 percent of those who suffered more than 10 incidents were female. And women are more likely to be killed at the hands of abusive partners or ex-partners, with at least 114 women losing their lives in Britain in 2019.

That’s a pattern that repeats worldwide—especially in countries where social services are poor or nonexistent and where housing situations are deeply insecure. In China, where coronavirus originated, migrant women were particularly vulnerable to abuse even before the outbreak; reports of domestic violence have surged since people have been confined to their homes. In some areas, calls to police stations have increased threefold compared to the same period last year. Chinese police have a poor record of handling domestic violence and are even less prepared now that their time and energy are consumed by handling quarantines.

In South Korea, where an energized women’s movement has been facing a renewed wave of misogyny, nearly 80 percent of men admitted to abusing girlfriends in past relationships when surveyed. While Korea hasn’t been forced to adopt harsh isolation measures thanks to a test-and-trace policy, the crisis has made it even harder to find new housing in a country already suffering from a severe shortage of shelter, as seen in the Oscar-winning movie Parasite.

And in Italy, which passed tough new domestic violence laws last year after an epidemic of femicide, women’s groups are already sounding the alarm, as they are in Germany.

“We know that the government’s advice on self- or household-isolation will have a direct impact on women and children experiencing domestic abuse,” the U.K.-based domestic violence charity Women’s Aid told Foreign Policy. “Home is not likely to be a safe place for survivors of domestic abuse. We are concerned that social distancing and self-isolation will be used as a tool of coercive and controlling behavior by perpetrators and will shut down routes to safety and support.”

If people are forced to self-isolate, they are at risk of being trapped in abusive and coercive situations, with less opportunity to access vital services.

If people are forced to self-isolate, they are at risk of being trapped in abusive and coercive situations, with less opportunity to access vital services.

Children are also suffering in these circumstances, as witnessing abuse can take the same toll on young people’s mental health as actually being abused themselves.

“Self-isolation is an important step in the fight against the coronavirus … but can be dangerous for the thousands of children who grow up in homes with domestic abuse,” said Emily Hilton, senior policy and public affairs officer at the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

Advocacy groups such as Women’s Aid are arguing that safety advice and planning for those experiencing domestic abuse should be included in the national government recommendations on COVID-19. The U.K. has spent the past 10 years under conservative governments that have stripped funding from essential services—including protection against domestic violence. Funding cuts to local councils have amounted to 40 percent since 2010, and council funding for women’s refuges has been slashed by $7.8 million. 

“The impact of self-isolation will also have a direct impact on specialist services, who are already operating in an extremely challenging funding climate and will be rightly concerned about how to continue delivering life-saving support during the pandemic,” said a Women’s Aid spokesperson. “They could see challenges in funding, staff shortages, and further demand for their help.”

There are also issues around domestic violence shelters. They are often crowded spaces that operate on short notice. That will make it particularly tough to cope with what may be growing demand while adhering to social distancing regulations. Prioritizing testing for newly rehoused victims may need to be a priority.

During last week’s Question Time, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was quizzed on the provisions in place for victims of domestic abuse. He answered that funding was being put back into local councils to help them fulfil obligations. But these vague answers do nothing to solve the problem. At present, support for those suffering from domestic violence is not a statutory service—meaning that the extra funding for councils does not guarantee vital assistance for those in crisis.

There is some small good news. The emergency restrictions set out in the U.K.’s Health Protection Regulations 2020 state that no person may leave the place they are living except under certain circumstances, including to “avoid injury or illness or to escape the risk of harm.” This means that people fleeing violent or coercive domestic situations will not be targeted by the police as flouting lockdown regulations.

While this is a welcome and sensible caveat, the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has also plunged people into financial insecurity, potentially trapping them in abusive situations. More than a million people could lose their livelihoods in Britain alone. Without a stable income, it is much more difficult for victims to leave violent partners and protect themselves and their dependents.

As the world continues to battle the coronavirus crisis, those living in dangerous situations must not be forgotten. Anyone experiencing domestic violence should be able to access immediate and appropriate support—not trapped with their abusers for weeks.

If you, or someone you know, are experiencing abuse in the U.K., visit the Women’s AidRefuge, or ManKind sites, where you can access support from national online and telephone services. In an emergency, you should always call 999. If you live in the United States, contact the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence or the National Domestic Violence Hotline. In an emergency, always call 911.

The coronavirus outbreak will lead to a “domestic abuse pandemic” as vulnerable people spend all day with their abuser during the UK’s lockdown, campaigners have warned.

Strict government rules to stay home to stop Covid-19 spreading is “likely” to cause a spike in domestic abuse cases, both survivors and experts claim.

Film star Michael Sheen is fronting an appeal for authorities to have a plan to deal with the “dramatic rise”.

The Welsh Government has promised help.

Domestic abuse survivor Rachel Williams, who was shot by her estranged husband Darren as she worked in a hair salon, said vulnerable victims will “feel more isolated than ever”.

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