Violence against women is just as contagious and deadly as coronavirus
5th May 2020
Article by Giorgos Georgiou, AKEL MEP
The COVID-19 crisis highlights the situation of gender inequality in the most intense and harsh way – in all its shapes and forms, especially when it comes to women and girls but also children.
The compulsory quarantine due to the pandemic has sharply increased the cases of domestic violence with women as the victims. Increased complaints and reports of domestic violence and an increase in homicides have been reported across the whole of the EU. Just in Cyprus, from the day the first confirmed case was announced up to 31st March, there was a dramatic increase recorded in the number of cases of domestic violence of 47%…
Despite all this, there are no adequate programs for the immediate and effective protection and removal of female victims from the perpetrator, while the Istanbul Convention has not yet been implemented and national legislation has not been amended so that it complies with the requirements of the Convention. Violence against women, however, is not limited to physical, verbal, psychological or sexual abuse within the family. Unemployment is also a problem, layoffs, pay inequality, wage cuts and women’s job insecurity.
Figures released by the OECD have revealed that 70% of the workforce in the health sector are women. A large proportion of the unpaid care is also provided by women.
What does this mean?
It means that at the same time as women are being abused and underpaid, at the same time as single mothers, unmarried mothers, widows or divorced people are assuming the increased burden of caring for their families (think right now about what is happening with schools closing…), at the time of the quarantine, exactly the same women are literally at the forefront of the pandemic.
Within this framework, I tabled four questions to the European Commission today, asking for an answer as to what measures and actions it intends to take to support financially or otherwise:
- To support single-parent families that are a predominantly “vulnerable” group of the population, as they face strong pressure on two fronts: family responsibilities and working life. It is understandable that in times of crisis the situation of these families deteriorates even more.
- To strengthen (a) the dialogue/cooperation/support of independent women’s organizations that develop actions to counter violence against women and (b) collect/process data on the impact of COVID-19 on gender as these data are key for important public policy solutions.
- To strengthen national legal assistance systems for victims of domestic/gender-based violence from the stage of obtaining legal advice, presentation to the investigating authorities for criminal prosecution of the perpetrator until the registration of civil lawsuits against the perpetrator or state authorities for omission of protection.
- To strengthen national social structures/services to tackle domestic / gender-based violence, ratify and fully implement the Istanbul Convention, and take measures and programs to support and release victims of violence from the environment as provided by the Convention.
- To strengthen the IT infrastructures of national justice systems through the introducing of new digital technologies that enable free online legal services (guidance, filing complaints and monitoring cases to victims) and (b) confirmation that services to provide free health care services for women that are in danger are available, well informed and with sufficient resources.
- Review of national legal frameworks in the light of the Istanbul Convention and the obligations it creates for the effective prevention, addressing and stopping of the violence exercised against women, as well as (b) to notify the validity and need for the immediate implementation of these laws in the duration of the pandemic.
- Strengthen national policies to create safe shelters for victims of violence and establish programs to reintegrate victims into society/economy and (b) relax the criteria of the European Stability Pact to permit member states to invest in public services in order to meet women’s economic needs and to combat unemployment that affects women in particular.
- Pandemics have always exacerbated the existing inequalities in our societies with an extra burden.
The current pandemic is not just about our own endurance. It also tests our will to come out in solidarity and renewed.
This will only happen if we finally address the problem of violence against women as a problem – with transparency and determination. Recognizing that every national action plan, every EU policy to combat violence against women must be developed on the basis of data directly derived from women’s experiences of violence…The EU and member states must promote and fund research within the framework of a coordinated effort to reveal the extent and nature of violence suffered by women.
Only then can we start talking about real change…
Intervention of Georgos Koukoumas, member of the C.C. of AKEL and the International Relations Department, at the Hearing “Palestine: What’s Next?” organized by GUE/NGL2015-07-1
- Feb26 2015-02-26
- Nov13 2014-11-13