COVID-19 made victims of domestic abuse more vulnerable

COVID-19 accentuated vulnerability of a number of society’s cohorts.  Dr Marceline Naudi, Head of Department of Gender and Sexualities within the Maltese University Faculty for Social Wellbeing said that one of the cohorts which were very badly hit was that of women who had to live under the same roof their abusive partner during the period when the country had the restrictive measures in place.

Speaking on Newsbook Hour with presenter Jes Saliba, Dr Naudi said that having to live with an abusive partner causes stress and accentuates difficulties. One of these difficulties would be the actual reporting of such situations, as the victims would be under the control and surveillance of their aggressors.  Even under normal circumstances, reporting domestic violence is a great hurdle to be overcome. Close proximity as dictated by the COVID restrictions made such reporting practically impossible. Dr Naudi added that this would have had dire consequences on the victim.

Pandemic underlined gender inequalities

In addition to this situation, Dr Naudi referred to the fact that during this period, expenses went higher and income was effected. This added to the financial strains and concerns. The uncertainties brought about by the lack of knowledge on the duration of the pandemic put paid to any form of planning, placing the victims in an increasingly tenuous position.

Dr Naudi said that gender neutrality does not work unless we have true gender equality, which we do not yet have. She also referred to evidence where, in most of the cases, where there was home-schooling, this aspect was mainly a responsibility of women as if this was a task, exclusively expected to be done by them. She also highlighted that women are most at risk of losing jobs in view of the economic impact of the Covid-19 outbreak, adding that such situation would make women more vulnerable as they would lose the needed financial independence which at times is crucial for those who need to stand-up to their partner when if they are in an abusive relationship.

Additional Reporting Liz Cutajar