“Gender Equality is critical to the development and peace of every Nation.”

Kofi Annan

Widespread stay-at-home restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19 locked women down with their abusers (mostly intimate partners), creating dangerous conditions for violence against women and girls, leading to tragic consequences such as abuse, assault, and pain.

COVID-19 has led to notable domestic violence worldwide, and Statistics indicate a considerable jump in the cases reported of domestic violence. Between June 2019 and April 2020, more than 243 million reports of sexual abuse or physical violence against women or girls (aged between 15-49) have been reported globally. UN Women around November 2021 released a new report highlighting the impacts of the pandemic on women’s safety at home and in public areas. The report further expresses concern about the erosion of feeling safe in and around the home and public spaces leading to a negative impact on the mental and emotional well-being.

The report (by the name “Measuring the shadow pandemic: Violence against women during COVID-19”) reported that 1 out of every two women feel unsafe and have faced violence during the pandemic. Additionally, the women who reported such violence are 1:3 times more likely to report increased mental and emotional stress than those who did not report any violence. Furthermore, there has been an approximately 30% increase in domestic violence cases in countries like Singapore, Cyprus, Argentina, and France (as of April 2020, five months to the lockdown). In INDIA, the National Commission for Women (NCW) received 5,297 domestic violence complaints in 2020 compared to 2,960 in 2019.

Data collected from the National websites of many Nations indicate that women feel unsafe during the night while walking alone, or the pandemic has added their anxiety levels leading to breakdowns and emotional trauma. There have been instances where women have expressed their concerns over increasing sexual abuse in public and private spaces.

All the data and facts have been staggering, hinting at a society full of inequality and violence against women. The stark socio-economic inequalities worsened by the pandemic have placed the women at a higher risk of violence, as a loss of income for women in abusive situations makes it even harder for them to escape. These risks are evident when looking at differences in experiences, feelings or perceptions amongst women across age groups, employment status, and those living with or without children. As the result of the global crisis, violence against women and girls will continue to escalate as long as unemployment, financial strains and insecurity persist.

It becomes necessary to investigate why such a situation persists and grows with each passing year and with every new calamity. Is it the patriarchal system of the society, or is it the social distress, or does it emerge as an aftermath of the economic slowdown, or there is something else?

Experts believe it is a mix of almost all the factors that have been mentioned in the above section, and with the COVID-19 pandemic, issues like such became more highlighted and came into everyone’s notice. Violence against women is not an inevitable part of anyone’s culture, and it needs to be prevented; despite plenty of efforts made in the past decades, we still have a long way to go to reach the ambitious goal of equality.

The pandemic has led to unemployment, economic instability, and loss of power globally, leading to alcoholism and stress resulting in abuse. However, none of those mentioned above factors is powerful enough to give rise to domestic violence and abuse of any kind.

So, is there anything we can do to eradicate inequality and social injustice against women from our society? Organizations like the World Bank, the United Nations, and the UN Women mention some initiatives to collectively solve the problem and eradicate the issue of domestic violence. One way is to prioritize reporting and police response against domestic violence to take action against complaints; countries like Belgium, France, Spain have made massive progress in this regard. Emergency shelters for women well equipped with medical care must be established so that women can instantly take some action against their partners and be safe. Governments also need to step in and be the policymakers; there must be initiatives to enforce strong laws against the complaints made by women.

In addition to the above, providing easy psychological assistance for those in distress is another aspect that needs attention. Domestic violence or the “Shadow Pandemic” is an evil that can be eradicated but a collective effort by the government, NGOs, Non-Profitable Organizations, private players, social influencers to spread awareness about the menace and the ways to get over it is something that is required.

Movements like #metoo, #blacklivesmatter, #Revolution Now, and many such others must be initiated so that more and more women can join and talk about their sufferings giving courage to others to speak against violence. Celebrities using their social power would be another way to highlight the cause and stop abuse entirely. Nations can adopt gender-neutrality as a part of the overall system, eradicating bias and making women-centric laws to promote equality.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the most unprecedented times in recent history, with a massive loss of human lives across the globe. With the adverse impacts of the deadly virus, the pandemic has been a catalyst for the rise in domestic violence against women. On the one hand, the lockdown emphasized work from home; the post lockdown scenario gave rise to depression, anxiety, fear and loneliness, which is challenging to overcome to date. However, it remains to be seen how the post-pandemic world shapes up and how the agencies (both government and non-profitable) can solve another crisis –”The Slow Poison- Shadow pandemic“.


1. World Bank blog:

2. World Health Organization, South-East ASIA:



5. United Nations, Africa Renewal:


Image: Pariplab Chakraborty

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