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Twin public health emergencies: Covid-19 and domestic violence


Abstract

While a virus is hardly “choosy” in finding a host, the consequences of government responses to a pandemic, such as to Covid-19, have deep implications for those already-marginalised, such as women and girls. In the absence of a systematic database examining the details of the impact, this comment synthesises existing opinions, reviews and the limited available data to show how, not only the outbreak, but particularly our response to it, are increasing the incidence of domestic violence (DV) across the globe, including in India. Despite tackling a much higher Covid caseload and mortality rate than India has, countries such as France and Spain have prioritised responding to DV in their respective societies, working out contingent mitigation mechanisms. Admittedly, low resource settings (LRS) such as India, have a bevy of additional infrastructure and budgetary challenges; but would that imply we do not respond to DV? This comment argues that in reality we have two public health emergencies to confront, the Covid-19 and domestic violence. It builds on the author’s observations in the course of working on DV in an LRS context in India, and concludes with a set of recommendations on better responding to DV during Covid/lockdown times. Keywords Domestic violence, gender-based violence, Covid-19, lockdown, pandemic, low resource settings

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