This is a new VBA campaign in which we will be discussing a topical news article that is related to sexual assault/abuse. The articles that we discuss are related to countries with the 10 highest rates of sexual assault/abuse in the world; highlighted on the map we have displayed on the VBA homepage. Through this campaign, we are trying to acknowledge these global injustices.
– Country: The United Kingdom (UK)
– Case: The impact of COVID-19 lockdown on the UK’s increasing rate of domestic violence
Currently, the message being projected by governments across the globe is ‘Stay at Home.’ This is an feasible measure for most people, but is not so simple for victims of domestic violence. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how entrenched domestic violence is within our social domain and how little we have in place to aid domestic violence victims in these emergency situations.
During the weeks leading up the UK’s lockdown, charities aiming to tackle domestic violence had recorded a huge increase in callers expressing fear and anxiety towards the idea of being in quarantine with their abuser (Humphreys, 2020). One week after the lockdown had commenced, a UK charity named ‘Solace’ said that their “phones were scarily quiet,” (ibid). Solace said that it was scary because they knew that there was a great deal of women who needed to call for their services, but couldn’t because of the constant presence of their abuser at home (ibid). The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the many ways in which domestic violence has been mistreated by our national authorities, and in turn, allowed us to dismiss some of the most vulnerable individuals within our society.
However, COVID-19 did not create domestic violence, it was a deep-rooted social issue long before the lockdown began. On average, 72% of people believe that the UK government could do more to protect victims of domestic violence, and 65% say they should supply more aid (Open Democracy, 2020). Charities within the UK believe that £173 million is required in order to “ensure that no women or child is turned away from refuges,” a figure far greater than the £76 million the government has offered (ibid). The UK has also failed to ratify the Istanbul Convention – a European treaty on combating violence against women, which was opened for signature in 2011 (ibid). These instances shed a light on the repeated malpractices that the UK has carried out in relation to domestic violence and gender-based abuse.
On a positive note, one thing that cannot be ignored is the amount of media coverage that domestic violence has received during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many believe that this is the first time that domestic violence has received such far-reaching recognition. We must make sure that this global conversation continues long past the COVID-19 pandemic, and becomes a formidable cultural movement. Voices Beyond Assault (VBA) is determined to advance this discussion. We are here to offer help in any way we can, to anyone who requires it. Please get in touch with us if you feel affected by this topic and need help at home. This difficult time will pass and brightness will follow.
(1) Humphreys, R. 2020. Protecting domestic violence victims in lockdown. The Guardian, [Online]. Available from: https://www.theguardian.com/society/audio/2020/may/06/protecting-domestic-violence-victims-in-lockdown
(2) Open Democracy, 2020. The COVID-19 domestic violence in the UK is a decade in the making. Available from: https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/5050/covid-19-domestic-violence-crisis-uk-decade-making/