With reports from China showing what could be to come, Johnson's council funding isn't enough to protect vulnerable people in the case of a quarantineby Sian Norris / March 16, 2020 / Leave a comment
How do you self-isolate when being alone with your partner isn’t simply a question of noticing how he picks his toenails, or how she gives a running commentary on the plot of every TV show? When instead, being stuck at home all day for two weeks means you are more at risk of controlling behaviour… of bullying and verbal abuse? Of being hit?
It’s true that for many of us home is a place of safety and sanctuary in a time of chaos and uncertainty. But for thousands of women across the UK, home is a place of violence and fear.
It’s estimated that 1.6 million women in England and Wales experienced domestic abuse last year, and it’s overwhelmingly women who endure repeated attacks (83 per cent of victims of more than 10 incidents are women). The risk is that under self-isolation, controlling perpetrators will further restrict their partner’s freedoms and threaten their safety—at a time when support services have been decimated from ten years of austerity. Suddenly, all those jokes about self-isolating leading to divorce don’t look quite so funny.
Reports from China revealed that incidents of domestic abuse increased following the outbreak of the virus. A combination of economic uncertainty, anxiety caused by quarantine, the lack of escape routes for women and a weakening of support services created a perfect storm.
This was particularly true for women living in locked-down areas. Those who urgently needed to leave the home were unable to access permits to leave the city and escape their abusers. Meanwhile, some activists worried the authorities used the pandemic as an excuse for not taking domestic violence seriously.
China offers a warning for what vulnerable women will soon be facing here. But at the same time, there are lessons from how women and activists in China have responded to the crisis.
Firstly, we can use social media to raise awareness that this is an issue. In China the hashtag #AntiDomesticViolenceDuringEpidemic #疫期反家暴# has taken off. Talking about the problem and recognising that it is a risk of the virus can at least help women realise they are not alone.
Activists also offered an online workshop to help people know what to do if they witness or are concerned about domestic abuse. Social media can be a powerful tool to…