OPINION: Domestic violence is not less dangerous than the pandemic

by | May 2, 2021 | Opinion

Quarantines to hem in the pandemic is an opportunity for some to rest, not having to leave home early in the morning or get snagged in rush hour traffic.

The loveliest thing is to find more time to have breakfast or lunch with the whole family. But not everyone is happy while quarantined. Indeed for some, it’s life threatening.

A few weeks ago, I was listening to a 20-year-old woman on Clubhouse, a social network application for public speaking and listening, as she spoke about her experience with quarantining since last year.

She described herself as a wealthy woman living in Istanbul, near the Bosphorus Bridge, and that she studies at an expensive university in the same city. But rather than being the epitome of privilege, she said she spent her nine months at the Bakirkoy Mental Hospital because of psychosis.

What triggered her sickness was not the pandemic, but domestic violence.

“My parents argued every day, and my father committed violence to my mom, I could not endure anymore, and I got acquainted with my mental problem,” she said.

So, what may have appeared as a happy home from a distance, was in reality one where a woman was in constant danger.

Recently, seven women were killed in seven weeks in Quebec. Seven lives, seven femicides, seven tragedies. The last victim died in a Montreal hospital in March after she was assaulted in her apartment in LaSalle.

Domestic violence against women and girls has increased across the world since the very first lockdown during COVID-19 in March 2020, as couples have been spending more time together at home.

Some parts of Canada, such as Ontario or B.C., reported that the calls women helpline services received increased 400 per cent during the first lockdown, according to federal government statistics.

The data also showed violence against women has increased about 30 per cent since the lockdown on March 17 around the world, the UN reported.

On the other hand, it is believed there are numerous women who did not report the violence to the police. Only, during the pandemic, less than 40 per cent of women or girls reported the violence to which they are exposed to, the Canadian figures show.

One in three women worldwide reported being physical or sexual violence before the pandemic. But these women are subjected to fear and danger greater than before under the pandemic.

Many factors are behind the rise of violence, such as loss of employment and reduced income because of the pandemic. Additionally, people are under greater stress as families are confined at home, with schools and childcare facilities limited or closed, and people cannot properly get in touch with the friends, according to Statistics Canada.

All countries have to take action to protect all women.

In a dramatic turnaround, the Turkish government withdrew from the international Istanbul Convention at midnight on March 20.

The Convention is meant to protect women’s rights by establishing basic standards and obligations of states in preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.

Women are worried, women revolted, but no one in authority in Turkey has heard their voices.

About 300 murders were committed by men, and 171 women were found suspiciously dead in 2020 in the country, the We Will Stop Femicide Platform study of 2020.

WHO also reported the highest levels of violence in its history.

Based on the UN Women`s study, lockdowns and disruptions to vital support services caused by COVID-19, the number of violent incidents against women and girls has marked a new record.

UN Women urged Turkey to reconsider its decision to exit the Convention, of which it was the first to sign in 2011.

Women should never be afraid to stay at home.

Women never should be afraid to call the police if they are violated.

Women never should be afraid to speak out.

Authorities must provide partial financing and accommodation if the women are in danger anywhere in the world.

And the rules of law must be more of a deterrent on abusers to discourage violence.