While the Covid-19 pandemic affects everyone, the consequences for women and girls – particularly black and minority ethnic (Bame) women and girls, who face multiple forms of structural inequality – encompass more than the risk of contracting the disease.
The UK’s largest domestic abuse charity Refuge reported a 700 per cent rise in calls in a single day under lockdown, but this still underestimates the true scale of the problem, given that underreporting is rife under normal circumstances. Too many victims are afraid to report their abuse in the current climate. For instance, one Asian woman I have been supporting over the last few weeks said of her partner: “Nothing will be done, he will kill me and blame it on coronavirus. The government and the police do not care about immigrants like me.”
Evidence from a number of countries such as China, Brazil, France, Germany, Greece, India and Latin America shows that domestic violence has increased dramatically since February 2020. Sadly, this trend is becoming apparent in many other countries, including the UK. While Covid-19 containment measures, such as lockdown, school closures and channelling resources towards emergency service provision may be critical to saving lives, they can also unintentionally exacerbate violence against women and girls (VAWG).