The Shadow Pandemic
More women are coming forward for the first time to report family violence, according to new Victorian research that shows Covid -19 lockdowns have worsened the potential for abuse in many homes.
The report found that 60% of family violence victim support practitioners said the Covid-19 pandemic had increased the frequency of violence against women.
Half of them said the severity of violence had increased. The number of first time family violence reports had gone up an astonishing 42%. They reported new forms of violence, including perpetrators demanding that women wash their hands and body excessively, to the point that they bled, and spreading rumours that victims had Covid-19 so no-one would come near them. Perpetrators were not letting women out of their homes, “to protect them” from coronavirus, and were using the restrictions as an excuse to stay with ex-partners.
The United Nations Population Fund has predicted that for every three months lockdowns continue, an additional 15 million cases of domestic violence will occur worldwide.
This is not the fault of lockdowns, as some might try and say. This is the fact that perpetrators continue to abuse and control their partners, this time by using the pandemic as an added excuse to do so, exploiting their partner’s increased vulnerability.
When will this stop! We all know that violence against women is a chronic Pandemic all on is own and has been for years. We continue to be shocked and horrified about yet another shocking murder of a woman by her partner when it hits the headlines.
And then her unlived life merges into the shadows, as headlines draw our attention about another matter, and the echoes of her screams recede from our minds.
I was on a Zoom Hui (meeting) the other day with four close friends. We were talking about the recent down fall of James K Baxter, a well known poet and once leader of a commune in New Zealand and his abuse of women, of which I was one. We moved on to talk about the abuse of women in general by men in power and the systemic problem of male privilege.
My friend Greg said to my friend Jack , “ Hey mate, before we all meet up again in a month, what say you and I take it upon ourselves as men to challenge male privilege, mysogony and any attitudes of sexual, emotional, and physical violence towards women whenever we come across it.”
As a survivor of rape and of intimate partner violence myself, my heart leapt in hope at this conversation between my two male friends.
This is where the energy to reduce male violence towards women must be directed, men who are non-perpetrators challenging other men who at any time, demonstrate attitudes of emotional, psychological or physical violence towards women.
This is my ‘Wero’ ( my challenge) to all men who regard themselves as ‘good men’.
“Get cracking mate with these kinds of conversations ……”
We women have been trying to have these conversations for far too long. We are tired.
NO MORE BEING SILENCED !
Image by Jane Fox is licensed with CC BY-ND 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/