2019. The start of a universal tragedy most of us never thought we’d witness. Over 200 million people infected, and sadly 4.55 million deaths. Covid-19.
I distinctly remember the first time it was announced. Everyone was ecstatic and thought it meant a holiday away from university, school and work. Until the realisation hit that this illness was real and very much fatal. Soon there were videos circulating on Facebook, Instagram and the news, of people with tubes inserted down their throats and loved ones on their death beds, alone. It was horrifying. Unfortunately, this was not the only thing that spiked deaths during the height of lockdown. It was domestic abuse.
Whilst domestic abuse can happen to both genders, it isn’t a surprise that women are a lot more likely to be subjected to it, including sexual violence too. Case studies have proven the difference in abuse towards men in contrast women, and although both are severely important, women are increasingly liable to experience physical, psychological or emotional abuse, as well as violence resulting in death.
Domestic abuse by men is deep rooted in the patriarchy and hatred towards women. It includes the belief some men hold, that they are superior, and women are weak. The use of manipulation and exploitation gives them an internal feeling of power, a prominent characteristic of toxic masculinity. Since these acts are embedded in women’s unequal status within society, which is part of a mass social problem globally, it has proved increasingly difficult to recognise and provide help to so many domestic abuse survivors, as it is so sadly common.
The pandemic and lockdown enabled abusers to carry out their sinister behaviour more than normal, and 70% of women said they found it even harder to escape because of it. The thought of these survivors being stuck with the person they are most frightened of makes me feel sick, and it makes me even more disappointed that this is still so rife today. This is one of the reasons I am proud to be a part of the feminist community, who push even harder beyond the essential rights women deserve to have. We earned the right to control our bodies, to decide what we wear, whether we shave, who we have sex with, and if we do or don’t want to be with somebody. No one should be subjected to any type of emotional manipulation over their life, and no one should have to fear for their well-being if they don’t subside to the abuse. It is sickening, and this is just one of many reasons why we need to keep opposing the patriarchy not just as women, but as men too.
During April, when the country was on full restriction, 90% of women who currently experience domestic abuse explained how the pandemic had negatively impacted them in one way or another. Some highlighted the frustration of not being able to escape due to their abuser always being home, and with most of national health services being used due to the chaos of the country, there wasn’t as much access to helplines or services. Overall statistics exhibited household abuse killings had more than doubled amid covid-19. 163 victims had lost their lives due to this hopeless evil. There were innumerable families exposed to this who also had children, and the children themselves said they saw an increase of abuse towards their mothers, and eventually them. This is simply unacceptable, and so much more awareness and funding need to be put into national services in order to prevent these catastrophic deaths.
The government response to these figures encompassed the announcement of 2 million pounds funding towards the immediate boost of domestic abuse helplines, as well as online support. 1.2 million had already been allocated to service providers by July 2020, and a further statement came on the 2ndof May 2020 when the government pledged 76 million pounds emergency funding to support vulnerable people. Thankfully a lot of this aid also ensured survivors would have safe accommodation to turn to when they had nowhere else to go. A public awareness campaign had also been launched, with the hashtag ‘You are not alone’ in the hopes it would bring light to the police and services being open for their use.
Eventually by 2021. In April, a domestic abuse act came into force. This aimed to make changes and protect rape victims and domestic abuse survivors. It also enforced the consequences of the offenders, with the government’s intention of paving the way for a new beginning.
All things considered; this will never be enough. It won’t be enough until women and children stop being viciously murdered by these animals. It won’t be enough until we don’t have to fear for our lives because of a violent partner or manipulator. I am increasingly saddened that it took a surge in numbers of lives being taken for these acts and protection laws to be created. Therefore, we must continue to use the media and our voices to protect those who are suffering from domestic violence.
Whether it’s an Instagram post, a donation to charity, or a protest, you can make a huge difference. So please, if you’re a woman ora man, be part of this change, and check on the people around you. You never know what could be going on right under your nose.
Don’t leave it until it’s too late.
FAMILY CONSULTING HOTLINE QATAR:+974 44327777
NATIONAL MENTAL HEALTH HOTLINE QATAR: 16000
SUICIDE HOTLINE UK: 116 123 or text SHOUT to 85258
CHILDLINE: 0800 1111