Everyone knows how the pandemic has greatly affected our lives. What many of us have overlooked, though, is the rising number of cases of domestic violence against women during quarantine. While the social distancing and lockdown orders might’ve help keep us safe from the virus, it puts women in abusive households in an even more vulnerable position since they’re essentially forced to quarantine with their abusers. What’s worse is that this isn’t seen as a pressing issue that needs to be addressed (where are the quarantine-friendly women’s shelters?), leaving most of the women affected helpless.
According to the study made by the Gender-Based Violence sub-cluster (under both the DSWD and UNFPA), the global health crisis has greatly affected vulnerable women and girls by exposing them to higher risk of gender-based violence. The study also found that the limited access transportation renders these women and girls immobilized especially if they’re heavily reliant on public transportation. Some are even house-bound, left to care for those who are unable to care for themselves. And when they’re caring for both children and the sick in one house, they’re at higher risk of contracting the virus themselves.
On the topic of domestic violence against women, the same study by the GBV sub-cluster pointed out how confining survivors with their perpetrators multiplies the risk of gender-based violence. And it’s not going to get better anytime soon unless we start increasing gender analyses of disease outbreaks. Without these, it seems impossible to start planning on how to address everyone’s concerns (since we wouldn’t know where to begin).
“Recognizing the extent to which disease outbreaks affect women and men differently is a fundamental step to understanding the primary and secondary effects of a health emergency on different individuals and communities, and for creating effective, equitable policies and interventions,” wrote Julia Smith in a journal article.
In the Philippines, there’s been a few initiatives that try to address these gender-based issues. Just recently, Pasig City mayor Vico Sotto included LGBT couples in their Special Amelioration Program. There’s also organizations such as Care Philippines that help impoverished women and girls. During the quarantine, they have been supporting communities in different parts of the country by providing food, personal protective equipment and hygiene kits.
Let this serve as a wake up call for everyone. More people need to continue pushing for the visibility of gender rights in order to encourage people to fight for it.