VULNERABILITY IN A VULNERABLE TIME
Addressing Gender-Based Violence
Lockdown has been a way of halting the corona virus spread and reducing its impact. However, it has had an impact on other pandemics; one of them being the pandemic of Gender-Based Violence (GBV).
The lockdown has afflicted people with job and income losses, increased anxiety and frustration, reduced tolerance levels, poor coping skills, restricted movement and crowded home space. Those with emotional and mental health issues have struggled with depression suicidal tendencies, anxiety, substance abuse and violence.
All these impacts of lockdown have made women and children more vulnerable. Economic difficulties, overcrowding, and hardships have increased substance abuse and made the vulnerable easy targets.
However, GVB has become a Shadow Pandemic. It exists. And yet it is difficult to address.
Often women and children are afraid to report the violence for many reasons:
- Reporting means going to a police station which is not always a sympathetic helpful reporting and handling process;
- “What happens to the children if I go for help?”
- “ What will others think”; the shame of reporting the “humiliating” experience,
- “I will give him another chance, for the sake of the children”
- “What will happen if they take Pa away?”
It is for these reasons that GBV often slips between the cracks and the heinous act is not exposed.
Historical cultural values and expectations have to evolve to view GBV as a criminal act. In many cultures males have traditionally been seen as powerful household heads, exercising power and control over subordinate women in subservient roles. Abuse is often about power, control and disrespect. These notions need to be addressed at larger community, cultural and religious levels to promote tolerance, respect and equality between men and women; to empower vulnerable women and children to assert and protect themselves from abuse; to break the culture of silence about abuse.
Silence is the main reason GBV persists. It is difficult to talk about. Yet the only way to stop GBV is to talk about it.
Tell a friend.
Seek medical assistance. Sometimes it is an illness that can be helped.
Get a legal opinion.
Just don’t be silent about Abuse.
Article by Dr Anitha Pather