SEATTLE, Washington — As COVID-19 increases economic hardship and forces people indoors, domestic violence has become a larger threat for women around the globe. Increased tension during quarantine, economic strife and the power dynamic play when resources are scarce are exacerbating gender-based violence during COVID-19. The is forcing the economically dependent partner to rely more heavily on the abuser. On top of this, children, who are home from school, are more likely to witness or experience this violence.
Social Class and Domestic Violence
There is a strong correlation between social class and domestic violence. As social class decreases, the likelihood of experiencing gender-based violence increases. Women who have experienced domestic violence are also more likely to experience employment issues, such as difficulty maintaining work, lack of education and training and higher absenteeism, as well as physical and psychological health problems that could affect employability. Unemployed women are often more likely to stay in a relationship with an abuser if they are economically dependent on them.
Gender-based violence during COVID-19 brings a host of additional issues. Women who experience domestic violence often turn to social support networks, such as family and friends, to help them out of their relationship, for instance by providing temporary housing. However, economic difficulties could limit the ability of friends and family to provide support, which in turn puts more strain on social services and programs. Estimates determine that COVID-19 has the potential to increase the number of people living under $1.90 USD a day by between 50 million to 580 million
globally, depending on how long the pandemic lasts.
The Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project (CTAOP)
During COVID-19, the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project (CTAOP), in partnership with CARE and the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), began the Together For Her campaign
in late April 2020.
Charlize Theron, Academy-Award winning actress and United Nations Messenger of Peace, launched CTAOP in 2007 intending to advance health, education and community support to help young people in Africa prevent the spread of HIV and reach their potential. CTAOP is active across sub-Saharan Africa but focuses primarily on South Africa, Theron’s home country.
Theron and CTAOP have committed $1 million toward COVID-19 relief, and $500,000 will go toward well-established domestic violence shelters and community-based programs through Together for Her. Support efforts to ameliorate gender-based violence during COVID-19 in the U.S. and South Africa will use Theron and CTAOPs contribution. In the 2016/2017 fiscal year, 53,263 women reported assault and 2,930 women endured murder in South Africa, which is already alarmingly high. By comparison, in the first week of quarantine alone, which began in early April 2020, the South African police received over 87,000 gender-based complaints.
Additional funds from Together for Her will go toward programs to protect women from domestic violence within the 100 countries that CARE operates, the majority of which are currently battling COVID-19. Together for Her will allocate donations toward services such as shelter, counseling, case management, helplines, crisis intervention, legal services, advocacy and prevention efforts, and health services for those experiencing domestic violence within these countries.
CARE is a humanitarian organization
that emerged in 1945 to fight global poverty. CARE focuses its efforts on women and girls
, because, with better education and health, adequate resources, food security and equal economic opportunity, women and girls have the potential to bring their families and communities out of poverty. Women are more likely to suffer from poverty than men, and to eradicate poverty it is thus necessary to empower women and utilize the entirety of the workforce.
Having access to the resources that CARE provides makes women less susceptible to domestic violence because they are less likely to be financially dependent on their partner. Additionally, they will be more likely to have more resources at their disposal to remove themselves from unhealthy relationships. Meanwhile, as their social class increases, as stated earlier, there could be a decrease in the likelihood of experiencing domestic violence. CARE reached over 68 million people across the globe in 2019 alone.
Gender-based violence during COVID-19 remains a threat, especially as poverty levels increase. However, Together for Her offers hope and resources for those suffering from domestic violence. In coordination with other programs, the empowerment of women will likely coincide with increased economic prosperity for all over time.
– Elizabeth Davis