According to the findings, published in the journal Bioethics, early results from China suggest that domestic violence has increased. For example, a police station in China’s Hubei Province recorded a tripling of domestic violence reports in February 2020 during the COVID-19 quarantine.
“Recognising, valuing, supporting women’s roles and giving them a voice in global health governance can go a long way in avoiding unintended consequences, building resilient healthcare systems, and reducing intersectional inequalities and vulnerabilities across gender, race, class and geography,” said study first author Neetu John from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in the US.
According to the researchers, other reports suggest that police have been reluctant to intervene and detain perpetrators due to COVID-19 outbreaks in prisons.
“Gender norms and roles relegating women to the realm of care work put them on the frontlines in times of crisis, resulting in a greater risk of exposure while excluding them from developing the response,” said study senior author Terry McGovern.
For example: Globally women perform three-quarters of unpaid care work, including household disease prevention and care for sick relatives, and there is not a country in the world where men provide an equal share of unpaid care work.In China’s Hubei province 90 per cent of frontline healthcare workers are women as in many other parts of the world.
However, the researchers make the point that it is not too late to include the voices of women in tackling COVID-19.
According to the researchers, governments can incorporate gender considerations into their response. Technology can be leveraged to ensure women continue to receive essential services when they need them most.
For example, emergency services and victim support can be maintained via text, phone, and online services.Telemedicine should be considered an alternative and secure way to provide women and girls access to contraceptives and abortion medication, the researchers noted.