Eradicating the Pandemic of Violence against Women (VaW) during COVID-19: the critical imperative for health
A published Paper in the Social Innovations Journal VOL. 4 (2020): WOMEN, MIGRANT AND REFUGEE, AND REMOTE AND RURAL HEALTH CARE BEST PRACTICES
Ephraim Kumi Senkyire, Farah Shroff, Isabelle Luzuriaga
Prior to COVID-19, the #The MeToo movement took the world by storm, exposing the extreme suffering of women at the hands of abusers. The United Nations (UN) has described Violence Against Women (VaW) as “perhaps the most shameful human rights violation” VaW is a longstanding global public health problem which has been ignored despite the efforts of many. Survivors of VaW are facing disproportionate consequences due to COVID-19 and resulting lockdowns and economic hardship worldwide. As a result of COVID-19, the reality of significant morbidity and mortality is gaining more attention, particularly as VaW is increasing. In this policy brief, we address issues related to VaW and COVID-19 through a social justice lens that applies a feminist anti-racism analytical framework.
We argue that this critical time period can be used to catalyze long lasting changes to prevent and mitigate VaW through comprehensive short and long term policy measures related to education, research, media coverage, legislation, policing, social work and so forth. It is urgent that governments everywhere make women and children safety an immediate priority through the provision of safe housing, food security, healthcare and retraining for livelihoods. The pandemic of VaW must never be silenced again and movements such as #MeToo ought to be supported to promulgate effective human right changes that lead to systemic and institutional justice. Because of the intensification of VaW during this time, Covid-19 offers the world the opportunity to eradicate VaW once and for all.
Eradicating VaW is a complex endeavor which requires buy-in from all sectors. Here, we consider the complex intersection of issues creating the current climate of heightened violence against women during Covid-19. Global leaders in government, business, and other sectors, in addition to local community members, ought to make efforts to protect women’s lives and shift the public narrative related to VaW. Empowering boys and men to prevent and combat VaW is a critical part of this work. Toxic masculinity, which is defined as widely accepted gender norms about men’s authority and men’s use of violence to exert control over women, is one of the deadly roots of VaW. Everyone on the gender spectrum has a role to play in ending the deadly pandemic of VaW.