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An Ongoing Reflection on COVID-19 from Six Feet Away

By: Christina Lee

Our world during the coronavirus pandemic is on hold, yet constantly moving.

As for me, I’ve found it difficult to harmonize my position as someone who stays home (or where I’ve been for the past two months, honestly) while I know that out there, the whole world partakes in a global fight against unprecedented circumstances. I don’t know how to reconcile the stressful but quiet stagnation of my social, academic, and work life with the dynamic bustle of the larger world as they cope with new government regulations, social issues rising to the forefront, and the glaringly global nature of the current pandemic.

As someone who is privileged enough to work and study from the comfort of my home, what I am about to express might not feel justified. I almost feel guilty for having the leisure to reflect, to point out my observations when I know that there are others occupied with holding onto life, risking their health and safety everyday. Nonetheless, I cannot help but believe that reflection might be one of the more productive things I can do as of now, to recognize lessons beyond not panic-buying toilet paper, disinfecting surfaces, and social distancing.

These lessons relate to the numerous social issues that appear unrelated to the virus at first glance but are actually relevant and quite predictable consequences to the coronavirus’s impact on our world. Only now under the guise of the effects of an unexpectedly rampant virus are we starting to shed light on some of the more headline-worthy issues—from increased numbers of daily domestic violence calls to hotlines in Colombia ever since their lockdown to one-dimensional regulations in Panama that failed to accommodate the identities of their transgender population, as well as government orders in Malaysia suggesting that housewives wear makeup and try not to nag their husbands.

The most striking aspect to these headlines are that they are all part of the process of disillusionment; we only let these social issues come to our attention now because firstly, they may give us a new way of looking at the coronavirus, but most importantly, we oftentimes fail to realize that these events actually originated from existing, systemic problems present all over the world. These problems are ingrained in our culture, yet we fail to acknowledge them until a worldwide crisis pushes our limits and the next journalist needs a headline that people will read.

We can’t find temporary interest in issues like these only because they are timely, and we certainly shouldn’t forget about these issues once the pandemic subsides. If anything, the resurgence of these topics is a sign that tells us what values and mistakes society has built up so far, and these are now exacerbated by the virus. Domestic violence, discrimination, or inequality isn’t something that just happens within a day; these are all results of systemic, habitual, and ongoing sociocultural shortcomings that always need consideration, regardless of whether we are in a pandemic or not.

Hopefully, there will come a time where we will be able to view the coronavirus in the same emotionally distanced state as we view the diseases of our past, but we cannot let the lessons we are constantly unearthing and bringing to the forefront become as ephemeral as the virus.

Yes, the pandemic is ongoing, and there are no solid conclusions to be made just yet. But we can only hope that we come out of this more enlightened, aware, and cognizant of the world we have created—and we must carry that with us into the future.

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Domestic Violence Statistics Under Lockdown

By: Megan Broudy

While many other crimes have decreased, domestic violence reports have increased since the beginning of shelter-in-place orders. The increase is likely due to the fact that domestic violence is a crime that occurs behind closed doors, in the comfort of one’s home. Since Americans are encouraged to stay inside, this issue has forced many to spend time with abusive significant others. Domestic Violence has increased 30% under lockdown in America. These statistics are alarming, but unfortunately, not surprising given the statistics that already existed beforehand. Women in abusive relationships would rather be in the presence of an abusive partner than risk exposure to the virus. For many, it has come down to weighing risks, so they have no choice and their children in danger. It’s even more alarming that half of domestic violence cases go unreported, so it’s impossible to even know the full extent of it.

Many structural issues in American society have come to the surface in ugly ways since the dawn of the COVID19 pandemic. These issues include many socioeconomic factors, so those with less privilege and resources have been suffering the most. People of color, women, and children have experienced many injustices recently. They have to rely on a government that was never meant to protect their rights in the first place. The reason why domestic violence statistics were high in the first place was because our government has failed to protect those most vulnerable in society. We need a government that will protect all of its citizens, especially those who have been marginalized.

So, what should the government do to help protect the underprivileged from domestic violence, especially in the time of a national crisis? There isn’t an easy answer to this question, but I think the beginnings of a solution might lie in restructuring the power dynamics of our country. The horrors of domestic violence stem from the fact that many women are reliant on their partners, so in the case of a pandemic, they become even more reliant. If women suffering from domestic violence received more communal support and were less reliant on their abusive partners, it may help. The government must socialize policies like childcare and eldercare to help women more independent and able to stand on their own. The emphasis should be on ensuring the independence of women inside the household, rather than trying to unify them with their abusive partner and protect households from splitting up.

Now is the time for an open conversation about our approach to domestic violence in America. Has it been our goal to protect women, or has it been to keep families together? We need to address these questions, so we can move toward better solutions for victims.

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COVID-19’s Overlooked Effects: Domestic Violence

By: Samah Atique

The coronavirus has now reached a staggering death toll of 501,898, a number that continues to rapidly increase — so rapidly that the stats will probably change by the time you’re done reading this article. Besides the numerous lives it has already taken, the pandemic has begun to shed light on a number of unforeseen circumstances that have surfaced since the shelter-in-place mandates. For example, it has brought attention to the discrepancies in workplace supports, such as paid leaves, the scarcity of affordable childcare options, and the underfunding of reproductive health services to name just a few. More so, it has led to an increase in cases of domestic violence, all while making it that much more difficult for survivors of abuse to obtain help. Although these issues are of high salience, governments around the world are struggling to scrapple the resources necessary to help combat them, specifically when it comes to addressing pressing reports of domestic violence.

Financial instability, economic uncertainty, and social isolation are all consequences of the current pandemic. Unfortunately, they are also common triggers of abuse. According to Wan Fei, founder of an anti-domestic violence nonprofit in Hubei, China, reports of violence in the province have more than tripled since the start of the pandemic in the month of February alone. This holds similar to the situations in several other countries around the world, from Brazil, to Argentina, Germany, Italy, South Africa, France, the United States, and more, all of which have experienced massive surges in cases over the past few months. And these statistics only consider the cases that have been reported. 

To make matters worse, resources to help people facing abuse have been depleting. Many organizations founded to combat the issue have lost funding and places of refuge for survivors have been turned into homeless shelters by officials. This is due to the “all hands on deck” approach many governments and authorities are taking to combat the coronavirus, which includes redirecting resources from nonprofits and clinic services towards fighting the virus. As a result, the already weak and underfunded institutions that are meant to protect women from domestic abuse are further struggling to address the heightened demand. Furthermore, with strict shelter-in-place mandates in place, it has become much more difficult for survivors to leave their houses and obtain help, leaving them trapped at home with their abusers.     

However, several countries have taken steps to help survivors during the quarantine. Canada has decided to reallocate $50 million in funding towards sexual assault centers and women’s shelters, while France is allowing survivors to temporarily be housed in vacant hotel rooms free of cost. Furthermore, through the Spotlight Initiative, the United Nations is actively striving to eliminate domestic violence in the EU through funding and services meant to protect at-risk communities. However, the demands for long-term responses regarding social, economic, and psychological support still need to be taken into consideration to effectively help survivors in the long run.

Ultimately, at a time when people are being fined and arrested for not wearing masks in public, the excuse that there is a lack of resources to hold perpetrators of abuse accountable and properly provide support for survivors is purely baseless. 

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is working to ensure that their resources and helplines are available 24/7, despite the pandemic’s impact. The number to their hotline, as well as other important resources for those affected by abuse and in need of support are listed below.  

Furthermore, if you would like to donate to help take action for survivors amid the lockdown, you can do so here: 

National Domestic Violence Hotline 

Call 1-800-799-7233 

OR text LOVEIS to 22522 

For more information or guidance on resources, please visit: