One of the unintended consequences of NY Governor Andrew Cuomo’s stay-at-home order is the rise in the incidents of domestic violence.
In New York State, domestic violence reports were up 15 percent in March and 30 percent in April, compared to the same time last year. Estimates from the United Nations Population Force Funded suggest an overall a 20 increase in cases of intimate partner violence worldwide, due lockdowns resulting from COVID-19.
According to the report, the impact of COVID-19 on ending gender-based violence will have several ramifications
● The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to undermine efforts to end gender-based violence through two pathways:
- Reducing prevention and protection efforts, social services and care
- Increasing the incidence of violence
● COVID-19 pandemic is likely to cause a one-third reduction in progress towards ending gender-based violence by 2030 Interim Technical Note Information as of 27 April 2020 2 Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Family Planning and Ending Gender-based Violence, Female Genital Mutilation and Child Marriage
● If the lockdown continues for 6 months, 31 million additional gender-based violence cases can be expected
● For every 3 months the lockdown continues, an additional 15 million additional cases of gender-based violence are expected
During a webinar, hosted by the United Jewish Appeal Federation on Monday, the group discussed the impact of Covid-19 on family life amidst the lockdown and the resulting increase in domestic violence cases. They said, although reported cases had in fact increased, they suspected far more cases were going unreported.
In fact, they feared the actual number of cases was moving like the virus– where the total numbers were far greater and more widespread.
Shoshannah Frydman, executive director of the Shalom Task Force, an organization focusing on domestic violence within the Jewish community, called the issue of domestic violence during lockdown as the “pandemic within the pandemic.”
“How can you possibly call a hotline when your abuser is in the next room?”
“Just take a second and imagine being sheltered in place with a person that abuses you,” said Frydman. “Would you risk leaving your house and exposing yourself to illness or stay at home? These are impossible choices. How can you possibly call a hotline when your abuser is in the next room?”
Michelle Kaminsky, chief of the Domestic Violence Bureau at the office of the Brooklyn District Attorney, has prosecuted domestic violence cases for over 25 years.
She said that low-income women of color were the most likely victims of domestic violence, and that the forced isolation causes “incredible stressors in the home right now that are exacerbating domestic violence.”
“You are no longer connected to support services like your friends and your family,” said Kaminsky. “You’re locked down in the place with the person that’s causing the harm. Stress from putting food on the table and paying the rent. They are incredible stressors.”
Kaminsky also pointed out an under-reporting in the number of domestic violence incidents since the pandemic while police officers were getting sick. But as police officers are now returning to work, the numbers are rising.
Kaminsky also stressed importance that non-profit organizations survive beyond the pandemic and economic downturn to continue helping women in need of their services.
“We need all these non-profits to survive. And it’s the funding I’m concerned about,” said Kaminsky.
“Funding is being cut because of the crisis. We cannot afford to lose the critical services of all the non-profits because the work they do is essential. We need all these non-profits out in the community to work.”
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