The Shadow Pandemic of “Domestic Corona-violence”



Excerpts of letter from a Reader:

I had been doing some research on the alarming surge in domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic. When I saw the article “Bob Avakian on Covid-19 and the Oppression of Women,” it underscored the urgency of the situation... As he says (citing an earlier article of his): “In the context of this current [coronavirus] crisis, the exploitative and oppressive relations built into this system are asserting themselves in a pronounced way, within this country and internationally, just as they have in previous crises....”1 And then Bob Avakian goes on to say: “One of the main ways this is happening is with the oppression of women. This oppression is a fundamental part of this system of capitalism-imperialism (and all systems divided into exploiters and exploited), and it takes horrific forms in the ‘normal’ functioning of this system.”2

According to a recent statement by the director of UN Women, even before the pandemic, an estimated 243 million women and girls between the ages of 15-49 were the victims of domestic violence by an intimate partner in the previous 12 months. 243 million!3

As if this wasn’t horrific enough, a recent report by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) predicted that six months of COVID-19 lockdowns could see 31 million additional cases of gender-based violence worldwide. The report describes a deadly mix of factors contributing to the surge of violence during the pandemic: lockdowns keep women and children locked up with their tormentors, and programs that prevent domestic violence and provide care and support to survivors are disrupted or closed.4

These are just a few examples of reports of escalating domestic violence during the pandemic:

  • Argentina: The number of murders of women during the lockdown doubled—pre-pandemic, the Argentine government estimated a woman was killed every 23 hours.5
  • Spain: In the first two weeks of April alone there was a 47 percent increase in calls to Spain’s domestic violence helpline over the same period last year.6 A 35-year-old woman in Valencia was killed under lockdown by her husband in front of their children.7
  • In many U.S. cities—including Portland, Boston, Seattle, Pittsburgh, Charlotte, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, and Omaha—police departments and domestic violence hotlines have seen double-digit spikes in distress calls since the lockdowns began, compared to pre-lockdown periods. There have been several domestic violence fatalities around the country linked to COVID-19: in one near Houston, a husband left his three young children in the house with his wife’s body.8

The horrors women are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the horrors of “normal” times should explode the myth of the family as a “safe space” for women, or that modern societies have liberated women. This is not a “normal” anyone should tolerate or want to go back to.



2. Talking about the ways in which the oppression of women has intensified under COVID-19, BA states, “Incidents of women being battered by husbands or boyfriends have significantly increased—not just in the U.S. but in many other countries as well.” [back]

3. Violence against women and girls: the shadow pandemic, UN WOMEN, April 6, 2020 [back]

4. Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Family Planning and Ending Gender-based Violence, Female Genital Mutilation and Child Marriage, UNFA, April 28, 2020 [back]

5. ‘Another pandemic’: In Latin America, domestic abuse rises amid lockdown, Reuters, April 27, 2020 [back]

6. Women killed in Spain as coronavirus lockdown sees rise in domestic violence, The Guardian, April 28, 2020 [back]

7. Spanish Man Brutally Murders His 35 Year Old Wife in Front of Their Two Small Children…, Euro Weekly, March 21, 2020 [back]

8. Some cities see jumps in domestic violence during the pandemic, CNN, April 4, 2020 [back]




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