The Shadow Pandemic

– Violence Against Women and Girls during Covid19

 

“Even before the pandemic, violence against women was one of the most widespread violations of human rights. Since lockdown restrictions, domestic violence has multiplied, spreading across the world in a shadow pandemic.” – Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the Executive Director of UN Women

 

Violence against women and girls has long been a global pandemic and is a national tragedy in Australia.

Before Covid-19, 243 million women and girls worldwide, between 15-49 years had experienced sexual and/or physical violence. Usually by a partner in the last 12 months. And in 2019, 74 women and 27 Australian children were killed. We cannot know the true effects of this violence, as only 40% of victims actually report their abuse.

Statistics show that an overwhelming percentage of victims are abused by an intimate partner. This abuse not only affects the victims, but also their children. Growing up in a violent situation can have dramatic effects on a child’s capacity to learn, develop relationships and engage in community life.

 

Violence against Women & Girls in Australia

The 2016 Personal Safety Survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that since the age of 15:

  • 1 in 3 Australian women had experienced physical violence.
  • Most of these, 1 in 4 Australian women, had experienced violence by an intimate partner.
  • 1 in 5 Australian women had experienced sexual violence.
  • Australian women are most likely to experience physical and sexual violence in their home, at the hands of a male current or ex-partner.
  • Of women who had children in their care when they experienced violence from an ex‑partner, 68 per cent reported that the children had seen or heard the violence.

Read more here.

 

Covid-19’s effects

Since January this year, 48 women in Australia have died due to violence. This is a devastating statistic. And since the outbreak of Covid-19, all types of violence against women and girls has increased. A survey undertaken by the Australian Institute of Criminology found that more than half of the women who had experience violence before the pandemic, said that it had become worse since the outbreak of Covid-19. Read more here.

Because of worldwide lockdowns and social distancing orders, many victims are trapped in isolation with their abusers. Because of security, health and money worries, there has been increased rates of violence in the home. Also, they are isolated from people and resources to help them and also have restricted movement.

Worldwide Covid-19 lockdown orders and social distancing means rescue shelters are unable to help all those who seek help from them. Because of these laws, shelters are reaching full capacity faster than usual and victims are left with no option but to return to their homes where they are subject to violence.

Additionally, the stress of Covid-19 can create other forms of violence. Xenophobic acts of violence, harassment and online violence are more widespread, and the risk of online sexual abuse is more likely.

This year, a Women’s Safety New South Wales survey revealed that 40 per cent of frontline workers have reported increased requests for help by survivors, and 70 per cent have reported that the cases received have increased in their level of complexity during the COVID-19 outbreak. Read more here.

 

Slavery Survivors in The Freedom Hub Survivor School

The women and girls in our care have all experienced serious forms of abuse. Many have experienced extreme violence.

Sometimes the slavery starts with a genuine love relationship that gets controlling. Then it becomes abusive. Finally, it becomes servitude as the woman loses all freedoms. She cannot leave the house unaccompanied. She cannot have a phone or a bank account. Friends or any choices of her own are completely taken away. On Day 5 of this series we will share a real story of this situation.

We also help girls who have been victims of forced marriage. When she runs, she has shamed her family and loses all the safety that usually come with having a loving family and community. Life alone, scared, and risking not being able to complete her education, is a brave choice for a young girl who runs from a violent abusive marriage. On Day 7 of this series we will share a real story of forced marriage here in Australia.

As a part of this series we are asking all women to share these blogs to raise awareness.

Awareness changes culture.

Awareness raises funding for NGO’s working in this space.

On Facebook and LinkedIn please just hit ‘share’. On IG share this to your story. Let’s bring this crime to light.

If you need help or know of someone in this situation call us: 1800Freehub (1800 3733482)

Written by: Krissy Kime (Freedom Hub volunteer)

Tomorrow’s Article: An Australian story of Freedom from Forced Labour.

 


ABOUT 16 DAYS OF FREEDOM

Thank you for your part in this 16 Days of Freedom. We cannot change culture without awareness so please share this post with your friends. Here are the hashtags for your share:   #16daysoffreedom  #freedomhuborg  #womensrights #orangetheworld

16 Days of Freedom is a campaign we are running to align with the UN awareness campaign United Nations’  UNiTE campaign on gender violence against women and girls. We are focussing on women and girls in modern slavery. For 16 days we will post a story to highlight the issue. To end the 16days we invite you to come to or host a Festive High Tea for Human Rights. These will be held on or near the UN Human Rights Day on the 10th December.

You can join our High Tea for Human Rights in Waterloo, Sydney, by clicking HERE.

You can Host your own High Tea by registering HERE and we will send you an information and fact sheet to read or distribute to your guests.

THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO READ OUR BLOG   (Please review it or share it with others).


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Other blogs you might enjoy:

Three things I learnt about Modern Slavery

Inside the Mind of a Slavery Survivor

How Covid Isolation Impacted our Survivors